A new kit that works in minutes will allow doctors to find out whether people with type 2 diabetes are suffering from inflammation.
The current test to detect inflammation takes several hours for the results to be obtained because blood cells need to be separated for analysis.
Created by scientists from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore, this new device is easy to use as it only requires a drop of blood and is cheap to produce.
Dr Hou Han Wei, a senior research fellow from NTU’s Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine invented the new chip that forms the key component of the test kit.
He said: “By designing very tiny channels on our chip, we are able to physically separate the various blood cells by size into the different outlets, like a coin-sorting machine.”
The body’s immune system is made up of a significant amount of white blood cells. A neutrophil is a type of white blood cell, which increases when the body tries to heal or ward off an infection or inflammation.
The NTU team’s findings showed that neutrophils can be used to determine whether people with type 2 diabetes are suffering from inflammation, and this new test kit allows the user to extract neutrophils from the blood sample.
Dr Hou said: “Analysing these separated neutrophils could help indicate how bad an inflammation is and if there is an increased risk of infection for diabetic patients.
“Hopefully in the future, clinicians can accurately tailor the right combination of drugs and thus offer a more targeted treatment approach for all diabetic patients.”
It is thought that if people with diabetes can be grouped by their inflammation status, as well as blood glucose levels, it might help doctors determine better treatment for their patients.
Professor Bernhard Boehm, scientific director of the metabolic disease research programme at the NTU medical school, said: “This new test kit will advance diabetes management by providing real-time signals related to a cluster of risk factors faced by patients.
“It will lead the way to improvements in patient care, enabling chronic disease self-management and finally a healthier society.”
A larger study focusing on using the device to tailor people’s treatment will now be carried out.