A gene that controls the way the body responds to the hormone insulin has been identified, marking a breakthrough in the fight against diabetes.
Scientists believe a variation in the gene's DNA promotes insulin resistance, the primary cause of type 2 diabetes. The disease is the most common form of diabetes, affecting around two million people in the UK.
The discovery could lead to new drug treatments that target the genetic fault and prevent the body failing to respond to insulin.
The hormone controls the way cells absorb glucose from the blood and use it to generate energy.
In type 2 diabetes, insulin often continues to be produced by the pancreas but it cannot be used properly.
The new genetic link, the first known to involve insulin resistance, was found after scientists screened the DNA of more than 14,000 people.
Professor Philippe Froguel, one of the researchers from Imperial College London, said: "It is now clear that several drugs should be used together to control this disease. Our new study provides scientists developing treatments with a straightforward target for a new drug to treat type 2 diabetes."
The research was published in the journal Nature Genetics.