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Two New Possible Methods for Diagnosing and Monitoring Diabetes

Aug 7, 2015

Protein levels in pregnant women, ground fingernail clippings may lead to alternative tests….

Researchers have successfully tested two new potential methods for diagnosing and monitoring diabetes in its standard and gestational form. These tests could be easier, timelier, and more affordable for patients to identify and treat diabetes.

The first study focused on gestational diabetes testing and monitoring and was conducted by Sridevi Devaraj, PhD, who is a director of clinical chemistry at Texas Children’s Hospital and a professor at Baylor College of Medicine and her research team.

Currently, gestational diabetes is not diagnosed until the third trimester. Standard testing for gestational diabetes measures levels of HbA1c, which is not very useful since HbA1c tests measure the patient’s average blood glucose levels for over a period of 3 months. The test is not able to determine the patient’s daily blood glucose levels, which makes it a challenge to track glucose levels during pregnancy.

The team of researchers examined protein levels from blood samples collected from 124 pregnant women. They found that 1,5-Anhydroglucitol (1,5-AG) was significantly different in women who had been diagnosed with gestational diabetes compared to women who were not diagnosed with gestational diabetes and were even able to determine a specific concentration where it became a reliable predictor of diabetes. An advantage of using 1,5-AG as a biomarker for gestational diabetes is that it has a half-life of two weeks compared to HbA1c’s three months. Further testing in larger groups are still required. However, if the results are confirmed it could mean a new and better way of testing and monitoring for gestational diabetes.

The next study was conducted by Joris R. Delanghe, MD, PhD, of the department of Clinical Chemistry, Microbiology, and Immunology at Ghent University and his research team. The team set out to find a reliable and non-invasive diagnostic and monitoring tool for diabetes that did not require blood samples.

They collected fingernail clippings from 25 people diagnosed with diabetes and 25 people without diabetes. The fingernail clippings had to be grinded into a powder that was then tested with a spectrometer, which is an inexpensive instrument to measure how much protein in the nail clippings had bonded with sugar molecules. This process is known as glycation. Fingernail clippings can be stored at room temperature for at least one month without affecting spectrometer outcomes.

The researchers found that there was a significant difference in measurements between the control group and the group with diabetes. The findings for this study has potential of making diagnosing diabetes non-invasive and less expensive.

Practice Pearls:

  • 1,5-Anhydroglucitol (1,5-AG) protein levels could be a possible test to diagnose gestational diabetes in pregnant patients.
  • 1,5-AG has a shorter half-life of two weeks compared with HbA1C’s three months making it making it a more effective way to track glucose levels during pregnancy.
  • Grinded fingernail clippings tested with an inexpensive spectrometer through the process of glycation could be a possible test to diagnose and monitor diabetes non-invasively and inexpensively.

Findings from the two studies will be presented at the July 2015 AACC Annual Meeting and Clinical Lab Expo in Atlanta. “Two new tests that may make diagnosing and monitoring diabetes easier and more affordable.” Medical Xpress. 29 July 2015.