Diagnostic Tool Uses Light to Determine Diabetes Risk

Until now, drawing blood has been an unavoidable component of being tested for prediabetes and diabetes. Nobody enjoys the process, and it probably makes many people shy away from undergoing diagnosis at all.

But all that could change with the advent of a new diagnostic device that involves no pricks, no blood draw, no fasting, and no waiting for lab results. It is already approved for use in Canada and Europe, and it is being evaluated as an investigational tool in the United States.

The device, the VeraLight SCOUT DS®, shines light through the skin to measure the presence of biomarkers associated with diabetes or prediabetes. To undergo the test, patients simply place their forearm on a portable table-top unit where an intense light shines on their skin. Results indicating the presence or absence of telltale biomarkers are available in under four minutes.

One diabetes researcher who has been using the SCOUT DS says that it is helping scientists understand that people can have similar blood glucose levels but substantially different A1Cs. According to Dr. Stuart Chalew, a professor of pediatric endocrinology at Louisiana State University’s Health Sciences Center, conventional thinking has been that blood glucose levels and A1Cs go hand in hand. But research with the VeraLight tool has revealed a consistently higher A1C level in some people simply by observing the amount of glycated protein detected by the device’s intense light.

Dr. Chalew notes that the diabetic children of nondiabetic parents often have the same amount of biomarkers as their parents. This means, he says, that at a young age the children already have the same accumulation of protein that their parents took 20 or 30 years longer to build up.

VeraLight is hoping that in 2013, the FDA will approve changing the SCOUT DS from its current status as an investigational tool to a fully approved medical device. Eventually, the SCOUT DS may be used on a mass scale to quickly and painlessly screen people for prediabetes and diabetes.

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