Light-ning fast diabetes test

FRESNO, Calif.

Adult blindness, nerve damage, kidney disease, lower limb amputation --the leading cause of all these conditions is diabetes. If trends continue, one in three American kids born in the year 2000 will develop it. But that doesn't mean they'll know they have the disease. Right now, seven million diabetics are undiagnosed in the U.S.

"I started getting dizzy and I started getting really tired easily," Autumn Russ, a diabetes patient told Action News.

Autumn Russ recently got the news, that she has diabetes. Now, she's part of a study testing how a machine can assess her risk for serious diabetes complications.

"Prior to this, the only way you could do this was actually doing a skin biopsy," Dr. Stuart Chalew, a Professor of pediatrics at LSU Health Science Center told Action News.

Pediatric endocrinologist Stuart Chalew says the screening device uses light instead of an invasive skin biopsy and lab testing to measure abnormal proteins in the skin associated with diabetes complications. A patient puts their arm on it and in moments the results are in. Monitoring blood glucose levels is currently one of the best ways to determine risk for complication. But this machine could prove to be quicker and more effective.

"Two people with the same blood glucose may have very different levels of glycated proteins," Dr. Chalew explained.

High levels can mean higher risk. Scientists are working on new therapies to lower thosechances. For kids like Autumn, and even adults, the system could also be valuable. It's being tested as a way to quickly screen large numbers of people for diabetes without the need for a blood draw.

The device launched as part of a pilot program in Canada back in September. It's currently restricted to investigational use in the U.S, but could get FDA approval by 2013.

Leslie Capo
Director of information Services
LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans
(504) 568-4806

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