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Molecule find may help anticipate diabetes

15th August 2007

Scientists have identified three molecules which could be used as markers to assess the likelihood of healthy people developing diabetes.

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, confirmed that the molecules, which are called cytokines, are a cause of Type 2 diabetes.

Elevated levels of these cytokines reflect inflammation of the body, which can lead to insulin resistance in the liver, muscles and blood vessel cells.

Therefore, a blood test for high levels of inflammatory cytokines could serve as an accurate predictor of diabetes in still-healthy people, years before the development of the traditional risk factors of obesity or insulin resistance.

Lead author Simin Liu said: "The pro-inflammatory state is often linked to obesity, which can lead to insulin resistance.

"So, identifying these markers by a simple blood test well before a disease begins not only can help improve mechanistic understanding of the disease, but also offer alternatives to lifestyle; hitting an optimal balance of nutrition, for example, and engaging in more exercise; relatively simple things that can prevent disease."

There are currently over two million people with diabetes in the UK. Type 2 diabetes usually affects people over the age of 40.