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Pakistan-US Science and Technology Cooperation Program
Phase 7 (2017 Deadline)

Molecular signatures associated with obesity and risk of diabetes in Pakistan
US Partner: Mohammed Ali, Emory University
Pakistan Partner: Muhammad Khadir, Aga Khan University

Project summary
Obesity is strongly associated with type 2 diabetes (T2DM); however, non-obese Pakistani people also develop the disease in large numbers. The need for innovative strategies to tackle T2DM is greater than ever; in Pakistan, T2DM burdens are particularly high, affecting one in five adults. This study will build on a cohort study in Karachi, Pakistan to identify early biomarkers that can predict early risk of T2DM in South Asians. It will also identify interactions between dietary and genetic factors. By employing a genome-wide association analyses approach and targeted metabolomics, this project will enable the design of intervention strategies, ultimately leading to more personalized T2DM prevention and management.

Progress Report

2018: In this study, we aim to examine whether there are certain genes or metabolic markers (measured from blood) that can help distinguish the risk of developing diabetes in Pakistani people that are normal weight compared to those that are overweight. In the first year of our study, we have identified the laboratories that will conduct the analysis of blood samples and identified the study subjects whose blood samples will be shipped. 

We will then check whether these genetic or metabolic markers consistently predict diabetes development in a separate cohort of people. To gather data for this separate cohort, in the past year, we started follow up visits with this group to collect their information, measurements, and blood samples. This data collection is underway.