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Blood test may predict diabetes

Blood test may predict diabetes Detects key amino acids

A new blood test may soon be able to identify people at risk of diabetes, as much as 10 years before symptoms appear.

Researchers say they have identified five amino acids in the blood which may indicate a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, even among people who have traditional risk factors such as obesity.

More than 2.5 million people in the UK suffer from type 2 diabetes, and an estimated 800,000 have the condition but don't know it. Late diagnosis of type 2 diabetes increases the risk of serious complications such as stroke, kidney failure, blindness, heart disease and amputation.

In the study, the researchers measured levels of 61 metabolites - by-products of metabolism - in 189 volunteers who went on to develop diabetes and 189 others without the disease.

They found that increased levels of amino acids - isoleucine, leucine, valine, tyrosine and phenyalanine - were significantly higher in those people who went on to develop type 2 diabetes.

People who were overweight or had a family history of the disease, and most likely to develop type 2 diabetes, had a four to five times greater risk of developing the condition than those with the lowest levels.

The researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital said they hoped the findings would make it possible to detect those at high risk of the condition at a stage when lifestyle changes may be able to stop the disease from progressing.

"These findings could provide insight into metabolic pathways that are altered very early in the process leading to diabetes," said Dr Thomas Wang at the Cardiovascular Research Centre at the hospital.

"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."

The study findings are published in the journal Nature Medicine.

This article was published on Mon 21 March 2011

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