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NIDDK to Fund Type 2 Diabetes Genes Studies under Accelerating Medicines Partnership Program

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Institutes of Health will provide $3 million in 2015 to fund research aimed at characterizing genetic variants associated with type 2 diabetes, NIH said on Friday. Researchers will use these awards, funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, to create the Accelerating Medicines Partnership T2D-GENES consortium.

NIDDK plans to shift its existing T2D-GENES program, established in 2009, into the new Accelerating Medicines Partnership, a $230 million program under which NIH and partners from the pharmaceutical industry work together to find new targets for drugs and diagnostics.

The AMP T2D-GENES consortium studies will expand upon the T2D-GENES consortium by supporting researchers who will work together to complete the catalog of genes and gene variants that contribute to T2D and to begin to understand how these genes function in the disease. The aim is to accelerate the discovery of causal genes and variants that influence risk for T2D, and which could be used to develop new tools for predicting disease risk or treating it earlier.

The genomic regions the AMP T2D-GENES consortium members will primarily focus on are those that have already been identified through genome-wide association and other sequencing studies.

Researchers may conduct fine-mapping and sequencing of targeted regions or functional validation studies to understand how variants impact gene expression, protein function, cell and tissue function, and other factors.

Because different variants may require different research methods, these projects will not be limited to any specific experimental approaches. For example, variants in protein-coding regions may involve characterization of protein products in vitro, in cell lines, or in transgenic animals, or studies of variants in non-coding regions may involve analysis of sequence conservation, expression quantitative loci, and chromatin modifications at regulatory sites.

Investigators also may use computational approaches to prioritize some variants they discover for follow-up studies, and integrative analyses may be used to facilitate the identification of key signatures, specific cell subsets, or biological pathways for further functional validation.

NIH expects that these projects will include the study of human subjects or will use human tissues or cells from well-characterized cohorts.