Sunday, October 17, 2010

New blood test to predict diabetes a decade earlier

Human blood magnified 600 timesImage via Wikipedia


A BLOOD test that could predict those at risk of getting diabetes 10 years earlier than current diagnosis has been developed by scientists.

The test can identify around half of people who will develop Type 2 diabetes, said researchers speaking at the British Science Festival in Birmingham.

It works by detecting levels of a genetic molecule in their blood, it was claimed.

The same molecule, called a microRNA (MiR), could help pinpoint sufferers at high risk of heart and artery disease.

Among those who already have diabetes, the test is said to be able to also distinguish between those who will and will not go on to develop some of the complications of diabetes caused by damage to blood vessels, such as heart attack, stroke and poor circulation.

Dr Manuel Mayr, the lead scientist from King's College London, said he expected the MiR test to be used in conjunction with conventional methods. Its biggest advantage was that it directly assessed the damage diabetes was causing to blood vessels.

"It's very important for doctors to define those diabetic patients who are at the highest risk of developing cardiovascular complications," said Dr Mayr.

"We hope that this new class of blood markers may give additional insight that we're currently not getting from other clinical tests."

Being able to identify which people with diabetes are particularly at risk of having a heart attack or stroke should allow doctors to begin early treatment with cholesterol and blood pressure lowering drugs and target it at those who are most likely to benefit.

One type of micro-RNA, known as MiR-126, protects blood vessels from damage.

Healthy blood vessel cells are able to release substantial MiR-126 into the blood stream. However, when they become damaged, they need to keep the MiR-126 for themselves and shed less in to the blood.

The risk of having a heart attack is between two and five times greater in people with diabetes. Around 15 per cent of heart attacks in western Europe are due to diabetes.

The findings were published in the journal Circulation Research.

Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, which funded the research, said: "This is important because right now there is no quick and simple way to monitor blood vessel health.

"Problems go unnoticed until symptoms appear, and the first symptom could be as serious as a heart attack."


From TODAY, Health - Tuesday, 21-Sep-2010
New blood test to predict diabetes a decade earlier
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