There is considerable overlap in the diabetes genes identified in the  Blood Sugar Formula Review recent four reports, giving the authors confidence that at last their whole genome association method is producing reliable results. Until recently, "there was no sense of progress" in tracking down the genes of diabetes or other common diseases, Dr. Altshuler said. The logjam started to break a year ago with DeCode's report of its TCF7L2 gene, and the consistent findings reported by the academic centers "has to be acknowledged as substantial progress," Dr. Altshuler said.

Dr. Boehnke agreed, saying, "It's very exciting to have results in which we truly believe." Up until now, he said, diabetes research has been what his professor warned would be "a geneticist's nightmare." The importance of the new genes is that they point to previously unknown pathways involved in diabetes. Dr. Altshuler agreed with Dr. Stefansson's view that DeCode's TCF7L2 gene has the greatest effect on diabetes, but said the other genes provide new insights regardless of the size of their effects. "The fact that none of the genes found were on anyone's radar screen shows how much there is to learn," Dr. Altshuler said.

"I tip my hat to DeCode," he said. "But the technology is now widely available," and, in his view, the only barrier to other teams contributing to gene discovery would be if they dropped the high standards of statistical rigor developed by the three academic consortia. Several of the new variant genes make the pancreatic beta cells produce less insulin, Dr. Altshuler said. That suggests that diabetes may start as a disease of too little insulin production, even though patients turn up in the doctor's office making too much insulin, to which their tissues have become resistant.