Biomarkers Predict Diabetes – new study

predicting diabetes through biomakersLike me, you may be drawn to new technologies surrounding diabetes diagnosis and management.  Consequently, this Massachusetts General Hospital study involving the early recognition of Type 2 Diabetes on the basis of biomarkers is fascinating.

Basically, the study authors performed  ”metabolomics” on data from 2,422 individuals, which means, they profiled their metabolic status from blood samples and did so  over a 12 year period.

Ten percent of the studied population developed diabetes.

The investigation found that specific amino acids were correlated with the future onset of diabetes.  These included isoleucine, leucine, valine, tyrosine and phenylalanine.  The combined level of three of these were able to identify individual with a five-fold risk of diabetes.

The results underscore that diabetes is not simply a disease about high blood sugar but involves a number of factors which includes amino acid metabolism.

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Why do we continually hear that diabetes diagnoses and treatment are ineffective?

We continue to hear year after year that both diagnosis and treatment of diabetes is inadequaete.  For example:

Nearly 90 percent of U.S. adult diabetics — more than 16 million adults aged 35 and older — have ineffective treatment of blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol. That percentage is 99 percent in Mexico, said the researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Frankly, I don’t know why a problem that is this often researched, reported and editorialized is not acted upon in an effective manner.  Here are a few guesses regarding why our progress in this area has been slow:

  1. Diabetes is a challenging disease to identify because is exists in a continuum of states begining with insulin resistance and hyperinsulemia.
  2. Finding an alternate or suplimentary tool for diagnosis faces stiff resistance among the medical community if it is not fully vetted with a large, mult-center and internationally approved clinical study.  After all, “new” mean changing the practice of medicine which requires significant proof. 
  3. The cost of (2) may be an large impediment
  4. Our society tends to rely too heavily on doctors and/or medications to cure with a sliver bullet.  Effective treatment of diabetes requires change in one’s lifestyle, expectations and resource allocation.  The disease is not life threatening (generally) on a day-to-day basis which makes it difficult for many to “sacrifice” their present desires for the future.

These were off the top of my head … I’ll add more as I think of them.

Thanks for reading.