A complex sugar derived from glucose during the body’s metabolic processes could be a way to reliably detect a pre-diabetes condition, say researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. If it does, the “biomarker” (an indicator of an organism’s state of health) could provide enough early warning that patients nearing the onset of type 2 diabetes could take steps to slow or even halt it through lifestyle changes.
The sugar, called O-linked N-acetylglucosamine, helps modulate cells’ protein expression in response to the body’s nutrient and stress levels, and it also affects insulin resistance.
The next step in research is to see if reliable blood tests based on sampling O-GlcNAc levels can be developed. If so, it will mark a significant step in diabetes research because currently, there is no reliable way to detect the imminent onset of the disease.