Simple blood test could identify those most likely to get type 2 diabetes 10 years before it strikes
The test could give individuals years of advanced warning so they can change their lifestyles and potentially avoid diagnosis, researchers said.
It could also identify people who are overweight but are not in any danger of developing the disease.
The study was published in the journal EBioMedicine.
Scientists discovered that levels of unsaturated fatty acids in the blood are markers of pre-diabetes, high blood sugar levels that can predict the onset of type 2 diabetes.
These fatty acid levels can change up to 10 years before full-blown diabetes develops, they found.
The researchers are now developing a blood test to identify those at risk, which could be carried out during routine physical check ups in future.
Lead researcher Dr Wei Jia, of the University of Hawai’i Cancer Center, said: “Currently there are no clinical tests that tell you the likelihood of developing diabetes, only exams that tell you, for example, if someone that is pre-diabetic has relatively high blood sugar or insulin levels.
“To know if you are likely to get diabetes in a few years is an important discovery.
“People can hopefully get tested for the disease during physical exams in the future.”
New smartphone device to detect diabetes in seconds
Diabetes can be detected in a saliva sample using a revolutionary new smart phone device.
Researchers say the device – which should be available within two years – will provide immediate results and could be used to diagnose the problem in low-income areas.
It was developed by scientists at Tec de Monterrey in Mexico with colleagues at the University of Houston in the US.
They say what makes the new development unique is that it is adaptable to mobile phones and gives results in a few seconds, avoiding the use of needles.
It is a cartridge adaptable to a mobile that records if a compound is present in saliva, which becomes visible if the patient has diabetes.
Project coordinator Doctor Marco Antonio Rite Palomares, director of the Biotechnology Center at Tec de Monterrey, said: “It’s as simple as pregnancy tests, where the specific marker shows in a few seconds.”
He said the project is planned to be completed within two years, adding: “We wanted a device which could identify a biomarker in a sample of saliva, and it had to emit fluorescent light so a phone camera could record it.”
Conventionally, it is assumed that people who are obese are at risk of being pre-diabetic, he continued.
“However, sometimes people who are obese can still be healthy,” he said.
“If people know they are specifically pre-diabetic, they can have a more targeted way of treating it.”
Obesity is associated with type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, heart problems and cancer.
However, around 25 to 40 per cent of obese individuals can be fat but metabolically healthy, showing no apparent signs of health complications, researchers said.
Wei and his team, who worked in collaboration with scientists at Shanghai Jiao Tong University affiliated Shanghai 6th People’s Hospital, studied 452 people split into four groups.