Right now, health care providers test for diabetes using either blood or urine analyses. But a finding by investigators at WCMC-Q and Hamad Medical Corporation suggests that the disease may be able to be detected in saliva, potentially pointing the way to a test that could be administered in unconventional settings, such as in schools or dentists’ offices.
In the study, published this month in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Dr. Karsten Suhre, a professor of physiology and biophysics at WCMC-Q, reported that patients have a reduced amount of a sugar-like substance called 1,5-anhydroglucitol (1,5-AG) in their saliva. Scientists have long known that 1,5-AG can be used as a biomarker for diabetes in the blood, but the discovery that it can be tested for with a simple swab inside the mouth increases its potential importance as a quick, non-invasive test for diabetes.
It is vitally important to diagnose patients who have diabetes as early as possible to allow them to access treatment, Dr. Suhre said, and the saliva test is one way of expediting that.
“Diabetes is a really vicious disease as initially when you get it you don’t feel any different; you can live for years without knowing about it but if you don’t adapt your lifestyle you’re slowly but continuously destroying your body,” he said. “It’s like running an engine using the wrong kind of oil.”
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