Young or old, whatever your ethnic background, diabetes can hit anyone at any time. Now there's a new tool helping identify the disease in record time.
If the obesity trend continues, experts predict one in three American kids born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes. But that doesn't mean they'll know they have the disease. Right now, seven million diabetics are undiagnosed in the United States.
Now a new needle-free, lightning-fast test is helping Autumn Russ understand what was happening to her.
"I started getting dizzy and I started getting really tired easily," said Autumn.
Autumn recently got the news that she has diabetes. Now she's part of a study testing how a machine can assess her risk for serious diabetes complications.
"Prior to this machine, the only way you could do this was actually doing a skin biopsy," said pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Stuart Chalew.
Chalew said the screening device uses light instead of an invasive skin biopsy and lab testing to measure abnormal proteins in the skin associated with diabetes complications.
A patient puts his or her arm on it and in moments the results are in.
Monitoring blood glucose levels is currently one of the best ways to determine risk for complication. But this machine could prove to be quicker and more effective.
"Two people with the same blood glucose may have very different levels of glycated proteins," said Chalew.
High levels can mean higher risk. Scientists are working on new therapies to lower those chances.
For kids like Autumn, and even adults, the system could also be valuable. It's being tested as a way to quickly screen large numbers of people for diabetes without the need for drawing blood.
The device is currently restricted to investigational use in the United States. But it could get FDA approval by 2013.
In related news, neuroscientists at the University of Southern California announced they've found the missing link in how the brain regulates blood sugar. Researchers identified the exact enzymes that lead to the release of glucose-controlling hormones.
Understanding how the body naturally corrects for high or low blood sugar could change the way diabetes is treated.
Numerous studies over the past 25 years have shown that advanced glycation end products (AGEs) accumulate normally in skin, but are elevated in people with diabetes. Like a "diabetes odometer," AGEs are a sensitive metric for the cumulative damage the body has endured due to the effects of abnormally high blood sugar and oxidative stress. In addition, studies have consistently found strong correlations between higher levels of specific skin AGEs and increased incidence of diabetes complications. Until recently, skin AGEs had no practical value as a commercial test because their measurement involved a punch biopsy (typically large enough to require a stitch) of the skin, and a complicated assay that could only be performed by a few academic laboratories. (www.veralight.com)
The SCOUT DS® is the first noninvasive test that can replace conventional blood-based diabetes screening. The easy to operate device needs no blood and does not require fasting. The patient simply places a forearm on the portable table-top unit, and a quantitative result is reported in less than four minutes. The SCOUT DS system is the first noninvasive diabetes screening system designed to provide a highly sensitive and convenient method for screening for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes based on the presence of diabetes-related biomarkers found in skin. AGEs have a robust optical signature that can be detected and measured via spectroscopic analysis. However, prior to the development of proprietary spectroscopic detection technology by VeraLight, no one had figured out how to normalize this for variations in skin color, blood content and structure. VeraLight's technology uses various wavelengths of near ultraviolet and blue light that are shined on the subject's skin. The light excites electrons in the collagen-linked AGE and causes them to emit light of a lower energy that is subsequently measured by the diabetes screening device.
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