One of the tests used to diagnose type 2 diabetes and monitor blood sugar control is influenced by 60 genetic variants, an international team of scientists, including those from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, has found. One genetic variant in particular, found only in African Americans, significantly reduces the accuracy of the HbA1c blood test used to diagnose and monitor the condition. This means around 650,000 African Americans in the US could have undiagnosed type 2 diabetes if tested with the HbA1c test alone.
Dr James Meigs, joint lead author from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said: “We now need further studies involving people of diverse ancestries to assess how diagnostic tests for diabetes should be altered to account for genetic variation. In the meantime, an option would be to genetically screen African Americans for the G6PD variant alongside the HbA1c test in order to accurately diagnose type 2 diabetes, or use other diagnostic tests such as fasting glucose measurements.
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