Scientists have discovered a simple blood test that helps identify someone who is at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes years before they may be aware of it.
The test measures unsaturated fatty acids in the blood and can help determine if someone is pre-diabetic, which means they have time to make changes to their lifestyle to avoid developing the full condition.
This discovery by University of Hawaii Cancer Center researchers may allow physicians to warn patients years before the onset of diabetes, therefore allowing them to potentially avoid the diagnosis of the chronic disease.
“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,” said Dr Wei Jia, director of the UH Cancer Centre’s Metabolomics Shared Resources Programme. “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.”
Levels of unsaturated fatty acid markers can change up to 10 years before the individuals are diagnosed with diabetes, he explained.
“It is conventionally assumed that if people are obese they are in risk of being pre-diabetic. However, sometimes people who are obese can still be healthy. If people know they are specifically pre-diabetic they can have a more targeted way of treating it,” said Jia.
Dr Jia and his research team conducted a metabolomics study on four independent cohorts that involved a total of 452 participants, in collaboration with scientists at Shanghai Jiao Tong University affiliated Shanghai 6th People’s Hospital.
The team performed a cross sectional study with metabolically healthy and unhealthy obese subjects, a longitudinal study to observe the occurrence of developing pre-diabetes over as long as 10 years, and two studies to evaluate the therapeutic effects on subjects who underwent metabolic surgery or received very low carbohydrate diet for eight weeks.
The researchers aim to continue developing the blood test technology, and eventually have it available for physicians.
The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.