Professor Peter Shepherd
The University of Auckland
Understanding genetic risk factors for metabolic disease in Maori and Pacific
60 months

Lay summary

Risk of diabetes and obesity and type-2 diabetes is greatly increased in Maori and Pacific people compared with other New Zealanders of European descent, but the reasons for this are not fully understood. Genetic differences may play an important role in these differences as highlighted by a recent identification of a gene variant that increased risk of higher body mass but decreased risk of type-2 diabetes. This variant is found in 30-40% of Maori and Pacific people but is virtually absent from NZ Europeans. Our programme of research will investigate the mechanisms by which this and other gene variants specific for Maori and Pacific are able to affect body mass and influence risk of type-2 diabetes and we will go on to study how to understand how these gene variants might influence the response of people to drugs used to treat type-2 diabetes.

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