a molecule would make it possible to detect it before the first symptoms


  • Type 1 diabetes is the result of insufficient insulin production.
  • Type 2 diabetes is the poor use of insulin by the body.
  • Untreated, the disease can lead to blindness, kidney failure, myocardial infarction, strokes or lead to amputation of the lower limbs.

More than 422 million people worldwide suffered from diabetes in 2014. This is almost three times more than in 1980, according to data from the World Health Organization. This chronic disease is characterized by chronic hyperglycemia, which is caused by a lack of insulin or by the body’s poor use of it. To limit the risk of complications, it is important to detect the disease quickly. Researchers from the University of Geneva, in collaboration with other scientific teams, have discovered a way to diagnose diabetes early, even before the first symptoms appear.

Screen for prediabetes

This serious metabolic disorder is constantly increasing under the combined effect of a lack of physical activity and an unbalanced diet.note the authors of the study in a press release. If the disease is identified upstream, in the prediabetes stage, its evolution to established diabetes can be counteracted by adopting an appropriate lifestyle. However, a third of people already have cardiovascular or kidney problems when the diagnosis is made. The detection of pre-diabetes is complex, as it involves invasive examinations to identify pancreatic cells that have been damaged by the disease.

The scientific team chose a different strategy: find a molecule in the blood that will be linked to the state of pancreatic cells to quickly detect their change, before prediabetes becomes established diabetes. For several years they have been working to identify it, thanks to work on mice.

The “1,5-anhydroglucitol” molecule

The first step consisted of analyzing thousands of molecules in healthy, prediabetic and diabetic mice., they say. Molecular biology together with artificial intelligence enabled them to find the molecule called “1,5-anhydroglucitol”, a small sugar, the decrease of which in the blood indicates a deficiency of beta cells, characteristic of prediabetes.

In a second step, the scientific team tested these results on humans. To achieve this, they analyzed the levels of this molecule in diabetic and non-diabetic people. “We could observe a decrease in this sugar in people with diabetesCecilia Jiménez-Sánchez, co-author of the study. It was very motivating, especially because this decrease was noticeable regardless of the symptoms, and even before the onset of diabetes.”

A future diagnostic tool?

For the authors, these encouraging results offer the possibility of a new screening and prevention tool, especially for people at risk. “A simple blood test followed by an inexpensive specific test will therefore make it possible to identify a potential diabetes in the process of development in them and to take measures before the situation is irreversible., conclude the Swiss scientists. Before it is developed and generalized, the scientific team will carry out new tests on the relevance of the dose of this sugar in different groups of patients.

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