Blood test `can predict diabetes 10 yrs before symptoms`

A group of five amino acids may predict development of diabetes 10 yrs before any noticeable symptoms.

Last Updated: Mar 21, 2011, 17:58 PM IST

London: Scientists have claimed that a test to measure the levels of small molecules in the blood could help predict the risk of diabetes a decade before the first symptoms appear.
A team at Massachusetts General Hospital has, in fact, found that the elevated levels of a group of five amino acids may predict the development of diabetes 10 years before any noticeable symptoms occur.

The five amino acids are isoleucine, leucine, valine, tyrosine, and phenylalanine, the latest edition of the `Nature Medicine` journal reported.

In their research, the scientists found that blood tests that screened for these amino acids accurately predicted risk of type 2 diabetes in otherwise healthy adults as well as in those with traditional risk factors such as obesity.

"These findings could provide insight into metabolic pathways that are altered very early in the process leading to diabetes," lead scientist Thomas Wang said.

"They also raise the possibility that, in selected individuals, these measurements could identify those at highest risk of developing diabetes so that early preventive measures could be instituted," he added.

The scientists say metabolic abnormalities that eventually lead to type 2 diabetes can be present years before diabetes is diagnosed. For example, insulin resistance, where the body does not use insulin effectively, occurs long before blood sugars reach the level seen in type 2 diabetes.