Many diabetes sufferers could be diagnosed early by detecting levels of a genetic molecule in their blood, it was claimed yesterday.
The same molecule, called a microRNA (MiR), could help pinpoint sufferers at high risk of heart and arterial disease.
MiRs are short stretches of genetic material that regulate the activity of multiple numbers of genes. Researchers discovered that one type, MiR-126, is significantly reduced in the blood of people with Type 2 diabetes.
The disease, which is linked to lifestyle, is the most common form of diabetes and affects more than two million people in the UK.
Those with type 2 diabetes have a two to five-fold increased risk of heart disease.
Levels of MiR-126 were found to be especially low in the blood of diabetics who are prone to arterial damage.
This opens the possibility of a blood test that can predict which diabetics are likely to develop heart disease.
It may also provide a new way of measuring heart disease risk in people without diabetes. Scientists believe the MiR blood test could be available in five years’ time.
Lead scientist Dr Manuel Mayr, from King’s College London, said: “It’s very important for doctors to define those diabetic patients that are at the highest risk of developing cardiovascular complications.
“We hope that this new class of blood markers may give additional insight that we’re currently not getting from other clinical tests.
Source: The Scotsman