Evidence suggests that type 2 diabetes is complex from both a clinical and genetic perspective. Better understanding of such factors should improve prevention, early detection and management of the disease.
Using the electronic medical records of 11,210 patients, researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine in New York identified three distinct subgroups of type 2 diabetes. These subgroups were characterised by the different complications patients experienced. They were grouped into diabetic nephropathy and retinopathy; cancers and cardiovascular disease; and cardiovascular diseases, neurological diseases, allergies and HIV infections.
Genome-wide analysis, published in Science Translational Medicine (online, 28 October 2015)
, then revealed specific genetic variants associated with each subtype, suggesting that genetic factors may play a role. The researchers say that exploring these factors in future studies could help identify subtype-specific biomarkers and improve our understanding of the disease’s mechanisms.
 Li L, Cheng W-Y, Glicksberg BS et al. Identification of type 2 diabetes subgroups through topological analysis of patient similarity. Science Translational Medicine 2015;7:311ra174. doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.aaa9364