New test can spot early signs of diabetes

New test can spot the early signs of diabetes
New test can spot the early signs of diabetes
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A new test can spot the early signs of diabetes allowing doctors to prescribe treatments to stop the disease in its tracks.

Scientists have discovered proteins which could help diagnose people at high risk of type 2 diabetes quicker to tackle the global increase in the disease.

A team from the University of Glasgow identified a form of proteins and molecules called "micro-RNAs" which act as predictors or "biomarkers" of diabetes.

Using new technology, the test could pick out those at risk before complication develop or even stop it developing.

Around four million Britons are living with type 2 diabetes, six per cent of the population but is expected to hit over five million by 2025.

Type 2 affects nine in ten Britons and is caused when the body doesn't produce enough insulin or the body's cells don't react to insulin.

High blood pressure

Sufferers experience high blood pressure, and sometimes serious long-term complications such as vision loss, kidney failure and lower limb amputation

People with diabetes are up to five times more likely to have cardiovascular disease, such as a stroke, than those without diabetes.

But lifestyle changes including eating a healthy, balanced diet, losing weight , not smoking, drinking less and exercising can help prevent it developing or getting worse.

Professor John Petrie from Glasgow's Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences said: "Many cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented by earlier and more intense intervention to reduce calorie intake, increase physical activity and prevent the weight gain associated with modern lifestyles.

"But a more accurate means of predicting those at greatest risk is an important part of that effort.

"This project is a great example of a productive collaboration between University and industry researchers, bringing cutting-edge technology to bear on an important public health issue, using carefully collected samples from well-characterised individuals."

Blood sugar levels

Before a person develops diabetes, beat cells - a type of white blood cell - in the pancreas, work overtime to produce extra insulin and regulate blood sugar levels.

By the time they are suffering from diabetes, these beta cells are exhausted and unable to make enough insulin.

University of Glasgow researchers with colleagues from the US and Europe said current methods of measuring b-cell functions are "inaccurate, prone to error, and labour-intensive."

The study looked at proteins present in the blood samples of 1,384 people three years before they developed diabetes and compared these results with those from people of a similar age and weight with a normal blood sugar level.

Researchers measured 1,129 proteins and 754 "micro-RNA" molecules in each blood sample.

They then used statistical modelling to work out which was best at predicting diabetes.

Both measurements flagged a series of changes in b-cells, that could reflect stress as the cells' insulin-producing properties worsen due to overwork.

Prof Petrie added the findings could "enhance the accuracy of disease prediction, provide novel insights into pathophysiology and contribute to future prevention and interception of cases of the type 2 diabetes.

The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.