Fingernails: New Way to Diagnose Diabetes?

Fingernails: New Way to Diagnose Diabetes?
Fingernails: New Way to Diagnose Diabetes?

Two new potential methods for diagnosing diabetes – one from a biomarker and one from fingernail clippings – could lead to easier, timelier, and more affordable options for identifying and treating diabetes in its standard and gestational forms. Research findings on both new tests were presented at the 2015 AACC Annual Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo in Atlanta.

The current standard test for gestational diabetes measures levels of the biomarker glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c), but it only measures average blood glucose levels over a period of three months; the test cannot be used to determine a patient's blood glucose levels on a daily or weekly basis. Because gestational diabetes is not diagnosed until the third trimester, it can be difficult to closely track glucose levels during pregnancy. Sridevi Devaraj, PhD, director of clinical chemistry at Texas Children's Hospital and a professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and colleagues found that the protein 1,5-Anhydroglucitol (1,5-AG) from blood samples of 124 pregnant women was significantly different among women who had been diagnosed with gestational diabetes compared to those without this diagnosis. Unlike HbA1c, 1,5-AG also has a “half life” of two weeks compared to three months. The team also also determined a cut-off level at which the concentration of 1,5-AG became a reliable predictor of gestational diabetes.

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In the second study, Joris R. Delanghe, MD, PhD, of the Department of Clinical Chemistry, Microbiology, and Immunology at Ghent University, and colleagues collected nail clippings from 25 patients with diabetes and 25 patients without diabetes to investigate if they could be used to diagnose and monitor diabetes. The clippings were ground into a powder and a spectrometer was used to measure glycation. Patients with diabetes had significant differences in the amount of protein in the nails that had bonded with sugar molecules, suggesting that this could be a simple and inexpensive test for diabetes. In addition, nail clippings can be obtained non-invasively, take up little space, and can be stored at room temperature for up to a month.

For more information visit AACC.org.