Abacus

A mathematical model which uses two values from a blood test can detect diabetes at an early stage, research has shown.

Insulin value and glucose value taken via a blood test are entered into a specially designed equation to provide a “cost effective” way of diagnosing diabetes, a condition which often damages organs and nerves before it is detected.

The latest international research, led by Associate Professor Dr Johannes Dietrich from Ruhr University Bochum at St. Josef Hospital in Bochum, Germany, shows the technique could replace more complex and time-consuming methods of detecting diabetes.

Dr Dietrich said: “Thirty percent of all people who suffer from diabetes haven’t yet been diagnosed and, consequently, don’t receive any treatment.

“Diabetes sets in gradually, and our diagnostic options are not sensitive enough to detect it; moreover, they aren’t specific enough, meaning that false positive results can also occur.”

This latest method, called SPINA Carb, sees a blood sample taken before the individual has eaten breakfast.

The sample is analysed for its insulin value and glucose value.

Explaining what happens next, Dr Dietrich said: “We enter these values into an equation that describes the body’s control loop for sugar metabolism and break it down according to a certain variable.”

The result is a ‘static disposition index’ (SPINA-DI).

Computer simulations were used to demonstrate how this new method confirms the theory of dynamical compensation.

This is the principle that pancreatic beta cells increase their activity to compensate for insulin resistance in people with metabolic syndrome.

The findings were supported by three subsequent studies of volunteers in the US, Germany and India.

Dr Dietrich said: “In all three groups, we found that the calculated SPINA-DI correlated with relevant indicators of metabolic function, such as the response to an oral glucose tolerance test.”

SPINA-DI was also found to be a more reliable marker of glucose metabolism compared to other calculated versions, with a more accurate diagnosis.

The researchers said: “The new method is not only cost-effective, but also precise and reliable. It could complement and, in many cases, even replace more complex established methods.”

Read the study in Journal of Diabetes.

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