6.7 million deaths. US$966 billion in healthcare spending in 2021. An estimated 643 million sufferers by 2030, and 783 million by 20451.
Not to mention the tremendous impact to the quality of life of patients.
This is the cost of diabetes mellitus, which is rightly regarded as one of the most serious chronic illnesses globally.
This chronic disease occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Diabetes in turn is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation.
Human genetics: a powerful toolkit for understanding diabetes
As human genetics offers a powerful toolkit for better understanding complex diseases, BGI Group has conducted human genome sequencing and corresponding bioinformatics analyses to support research into chronic illnesses such as diabetes.
In particular, the Group has supported and co-sponsored the International Thousand Human Genome Project, which is jointly undertaken by scientists from China, the US and Germany. This project aims to provide a detailed map of human genetic variations so as to advance disease research.
Leading the global fight with international partnerships
BGI Group and a scientific research alliance from nine Danish research institutes have also launched the LuCAMP program, of which a sub-project is the study of diabetes-associated genes and mutations.
The LuCAMP program launched an exome sequencing project that performed full exome sequencing on 3,000 visceral obese patients and 3,000 control healthy individuals. Exome sequencing refers to a technique for sequencing all the protein-coding regions of the genes in a genome.
The program provided an opportunity to identify new genetic variants associated with complex diseases, making it possible to find additional 90% risk sites associated with type 2 diabetes and related metabolic and cardiovascular diseases.
Another research study carried out between BGI Group and the University of Copenhagen found that the composition of a person's intestinal bacteria could play an important role in the development of type 2 diabetes2.
Scientists estimate that just as many people could be suffering from type 2 diabetes without realising it, and this research study indicates that analysis of gut bacteria could offer clues in the diagnostic process.
The rising burden of type 2 diabetes remains a major concern across global healthcare systems. More than 95% of people diagnosed with diabetes have type 2 diabetes3, and this form of diabetes is projected to increase to 7,079 per 100,000 individuals by 2030 worldwide4. Scientists have suggested that family history, genetic factors, and similar environmental factors are associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes5.
This is why continued efforts by BGI and the scientific community to use genomics to help identify, treat and prevent chronic illnesses are key to reducing the disease burden, giving patients a much better quality of life.