Blood test reveals epigenetic modifications that could predict life-threatening type 2 diabetes complications

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Image: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Chronically high blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes can damage tissues throughout the body, such as the nerves, eyes, or kidneys. These vascular complications are a leading cause of death for patients, and scientists have been working toward designing a noninvasive, simple means to detect them early on in the course of disease progression. Typically, clinicians rely on a series of separate tests—from urine screens and ultrasounds to eye examinations—to estimate the risk of developing complications. A blood test based on a biomarker associated with a range of such issues would save time for patients and be more convenient for clinicians.

In the latest development toward that goal, researchers have created a blood test that can predict the likelihood of a diabetes patient experiencing a vascular complication. The signals of present problems came from distinct patterns of epigenetic modifications known as hydroxymethylations on freely circulating DNA in the patients’ blood. In a pilot study of 62 participants, the scientists could accurately distinguish between those with and without complications based on those patterns, they report [October 1] in Clinical Chemistry.

Related article:  Facing Ebola outbreak, Uganda approves 3 experimental treatments

“I thought it was novel,” remarks [epigeneticist] Philip Marsden.

Read full, original post: Blood-Based Epigenetic Screen Tests for Diabetes Complications

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