A blood test can detect people at risk for developing type 2 diabetes two decades for the condition, one study suggests.
Swedish scientists found that people high in a protein called follistatin are twice as likely to develop the “silent killer” than volunteers at the other end of the scale.
The results could make it possible to detect the condition earlier and reduce the risk of complications such as heart disease and stroke.
Almost 5 million people in the UK have diabetes – with 90 percent of all cases being Type 2. About 34.2 million people in the US have the disease.
Obesity is the main trigger, so maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, and exercising can all reduce the risk of the disease.
The condition prevents the pancreas from producing enough insulin, which causes blood sugar levels to rise.
Almost 5 million people in the UK have diabetes – with 90 percent of cases being Type 2 – and the number is expected to reach 5.5 million by 2030. About 34.2 million people in the US have the disease. Pictured: doctor checks blood sugar levels
The graph shows the proportion of people who developed diabetes in relation to their follistatin levels. Those with the highest scores (purple line) were twice as likely to develop diabetes compared to those with the lowest scores (blue line).
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is a common condition that leads to high blood sugar (glucose) levels.
It can lead to symptoms such as excessive thirst, excessive urination, and fatigue. It can also increase your risk of serious eye, heart, and nerve problems.
It is a lifelong condition that can affect your everyday life. You may need to change your diet, take medication, and get regular checkups.
It is caused by problems with a chemical in the body (hormone) called insulin. It’s often associated with being overweight or inactive, or a family history of type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is currently diagnosed after it develops through a blood or urine test that detects high blood sugar levels.
Lund University researchers examined blood samples from 4,195 participants who had provided samples on a regular basis for nearly two decades.
According to the results published in Nature Communications, 577 people (13.8 percent) had type 2 diabetes.
Those who developed the disease had higher blood plasma follistatin levels at the start of the study than those who did not.
Follistatin helps regulate metabolism, but it also promotes the breakdown and accumulation of body fat in the liver, which can lead to type 2 diabetes and fatty liver.
Participants with slightly elevated levels of follistatin were 28 percent more likely to develop the condition.
Those who had higher levels of follistatin were 47 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes in the years that followed.
And those with the highest scores were twice as likely to develop the disease.
Dr. Yang De Marinis, lead author, said, “This study shows that follistatin has the potential to become an important biomarker in predicting future type 2 diabetes.
“It also brings us one step closer to understanding the mechanisms behind the disease.”
Dr. Marinis, also CEO of the biotech startup Lundoch Diagnostics, is developing a blood test tool that could be rolled out worldwide.
Patients would provide a blood sample which would then be analyzed to determine the concentrations for the protein biomarker.