A sweet way to detect diabetes?

Coming soon: A “sweet” way to detect diabetes before its symptoms or complications occur, and reverse its course, say scientists. A team at John Hopkins University has claimed that the simple, routine test for detecting the subtle onset of the condition could soon be developed, after scientists discovered a dramatic increase of an easy-to-detect enzyme in red blood cells of diabetics, the ‘Diabetes’ journal reported.

Aerobic exercise can improve blood- sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes

Their study has showed that the enzyme O-GlcNAcase is up to two to three times higher in people with diabetes and prediabetes than in those with no disease. “That’s a big difference, especially in an enzyme that’s as tightly regulated as this one is,” said team leader Prof. Gerald Hart at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Building on their previous research, which showed how an abundant but difficult-to-detect sugar switch known as O-GlcNAc (pronounced oh-GLICK-nack) responded to nutrients and stress, the scientists knew this small molecule was elevated in the red cells of patients with diabetes. “The question was whether the elevation happened in the earliest stages of diabetes and therefore might have value as a diagnostic tool,” Prof Hart said. To find out, the team focused on levels of O-GlcNAcase, an enzyme that removes O-GlcNAc in red cells. It modifies many of the cell’s proteins to control their functions in response to nutrients and stress.

Diabetes: Diet and Blood tests

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