Computers analyze environmental factors in diabetes

May 20, 2010

Like many complex diseases, diabetes results from the interplay of genetic and environmental factors. To examine genetic risk factors, scientists pore over the human genome sequence. Environmental factors have been trickier to pin down because there is no way to evaluate them comprehensively.

Now, researchers at Stanford University present what they call an environment-wide association study (EWAS) or to systematically examine the contributions of hundreds of factors in the development of . This "enviromics" approach, which mirrors genome-wide association studies, harnesses high-speed computers and publicly accessible databases.

The first-of-its-kind study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), appears in the May 20, 2010, issue of . The article is titled An Environment-Wide Association Study (EWAS) on Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.

The authors examined 226 separate like nutrition and exposure to bacteria, viruses, allergens and toxins. They found that certain factors, notably a pesticide derivative and the environmental contaminant PCB, were strongly associated with the development of . Other factors, including the nutrient beta-carotene, served a protective role.

The scientists describe their work as a demonstration that computational approaches can reveal as much about environmental contributions to disease as about genetic factors. They posit that the technique could be applied to other complex diseases like obesity, hypertension and cardiovascular disorders.

The authors acknowledge that many challenges remain, including the fact that, unlike the genome, "the environment is boundless."

Explore further: US orders farms to report pig virus infections

Provided by National Institutes of Health

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Team unearths genetic risk factors for diabetes

May 14, 2007

Scientists have discovered three unsuspected regions of human DNA that contain clear genetic risk factors for type 2 diabetes, and another that is associated with elevated blood triglycerides.

Are we selling personalized medicine before its time?

Feb 06, 2009

We may be a long way off from using genetics to reliably gauge our risks for specific diseases, say researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health in a study published on Feb. 5 in the online ...

Recommended for you

US orders farms to report pig virus infections

13 hours ago

The U.S. government is starting a new program to help monitor and possibly control the spread of a virus that has killed millions of pigs since showing up in the country last year.

Foreigner dies of MERS in Saudi

14 hours ago

A foreigner has died after she contracted MERS in the Saudi capital, the health ministry said on announced Friday, bringing the nationwide death toll to 73.

Vietnam battles fatal measles outbreak

17 hours ago

Vietnam is scrambling to contain a deadly outbreak of measles that has killed more than 100 people, mostly young children, and infected thousands more this year, the government said Friday.

New clues on tissue scarring in scleroderma

18 hours ago

A discovery by Northwestern Medicine scientists could lead to potential new treatments for breaking the cycle of tissue scarring in people with scleroderma.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Treating depression in Parkinson's patients

A group of scientists from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has found interesting new information in a study on depression and neuropsychological function in Parkinson's ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...