Posted: Fri 17th Jun 2016

Cardiff Scientists Co-Create Diabetes ‘Early Warning’ Biosensor /
This article is old - Published: Friday, Jun 17th, 2016

Scientists at Cardiff University are helping to develop an early warning biosensor for Type 2 diabetes, which would give people a crucial window of opportunity to change their lifestyle and help prevent or delay onset of the disease. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The new diagnostic system, being created by teams at Nottingham Trent University and Cardiff, is capable of measuring specific molecules in the blood which are a predictor of diabetes. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

It is hoped the technology will help to reduce morbidity and mortality linked to Type 2 diabetes, as well as the cost to the NHS, which currently stands at almost £10 million per day. The disease – which affects an estimated four million people in the UK alone – is the fifth most common cause of death globally. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Senior Woman Checking Her Insulin Dosage. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The new biosensor, which would operate as a simple point-of-care finger prick test, would inform people of their predisposition to developing Type 2 diabetes within the subsequent five years. This early intervention would provide enough time to make vital adjustments in diet and lifestyle behaviour, the scientists say. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The technology combines ultra-fine spider web-like fabrics and small fluid channels in the form of a disposable plastic strip. This ‘nano material’ has been modified to produce a signal when exposed to blood containing higher than normal concentrations of certain predictor molecules, or ‘biomarkers’, which are known to indicate an early manifestation of Type 2 diabetes. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

A prototype is being developed as part of the work, which has been funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council and the Welsh Government. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Professor Ian Weeks, of Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, said: “There are many new biomarkers of various diseases being discovered as a result of ongoing research, but the challenge is the development of methods to allow them to be easily and accurately measured. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“In addition to diagnosing disease these are particularly important for prediction and prognosis of disease, as well as in ‘precision medicine’ which more accurately informs the best treatment for patients.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Bob Stevens, Professor of Smart Materials and Devices in Nottingham Trent University’s School of Science and Technology, said: “Due to factors such as people living longer, sedentary lifestyles and obesity, the number of people with Type 2 diabetes is growing by seven percent a year. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“It’s hugely important that steps are taken to address this major health issue, and we have the technology here to help make a difference. We will be able to give people an opportunity to change their diets, their lifestyle and make a positive impact to healthy ageing. In addition to this, the savings to the NHS could be enormous.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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