Scientists have identified three molecules that could make earlier detection of prediabetes easier for doctors and enable more personalised treatment.
This three molecule signature was shown to accurately indicate insulin resistance, or prediabetes, which is a predictor of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Researchers from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre made the discovery following a study on mice, where they used a combination of machine learning and omics technology (which analyse genetic differences) to examine molecule types that make up the cells of an organism.
The information was then used to classify mice based on what type of food they ate, their genetic origin and insulin sensitivity throughout the body.
Each of the three molecules, named C22:1-CoA, C2-carnitine and C16-ceramide, were considerably more predictive of prediabetes when combined compared to on their own. The researchers hope this finding could pave the way for future discoveries regarding the plethora of factors that contribute to prediabetes.
“Once we can identify the molecules and other factors that contribute to prediabetes, we can customise treatments to suit patients’ specific make up and needs,” said senior author Professor David James.
“This study demonstrates the power of combining technologies to solve some of the world’s biggest problems. The next step is to further exploit these technologies to uncover the full suite of pathways and factors that contribute to prediabetes – which will include genetic, environmental and possibly epigenetic influences – at a population level.”
James and colleagues added that while prediabetes development is complicated, being able to simultaneously analyse data for different variances could help predict prediabetes by identifying insulin sensitivity throughout the body.

The findings have been published online in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
Editor’s note: Eating a healthy reduced carbohydrate diet and getting regular exercise has been shown by users of our Low Carb Program to help prevent prediabetes from developing into type 2 diabetes.

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