London: Scientists claim to have found the first proof of molecular risk factors for Type 2 diabetes that indicate susceptibility to the disease.

A team at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem says the findings could provide an "early warning" sign that may lead to new approaches to treating this and other human disease conditions.

The scientists have, in fact, developed a novel, multistep, research design involving the analysis of disease- contributing epigenetic variations among hundreds of patients and control individuals.

For its research, the team, led by Asaf Hellman, decided to map DNA methylation variations rather than DNA sequence variations, as was traditionally done.

The scientists undertook a proof-of-concept study among 1,169 type 2 diabetes patients and non-diabetic controls. The results revealed the unique abilities of this novel research approach by showing a clear-cut, disease-predisposing DNA methylation signature.

This is a first report in the scientific literature of epigenetic risk factor for T2D.

DNA methylation is a naturally occurring mechanism used to regulate genes and protect DNA from some types of cleavage.

It is one of the regulatory processes that are referred to as epigenetic, in which an alteration in gene expression occurs without a change in the nucleotide sequence of the DNA.

Defects in this process cause several types of disease that afflict humans, say the scientists whose findings have been published in the 'Human Molecular Genetic' journal.