12-year study flags new biomarker for high risk of diabetes

A 12-year diabetes study has turned up a new biomarker that can flag a high risk for diabetes years before the disease develops. And that could eventually help physicians in the fight against the global epidemic of the disease.

A research team at Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital say that people with relatively high levels of 2-aminoadipic acid (or 2-AAA) were up to four times more likely to develop diabetes. And they say it's a better predictor of disease than obesity. Investigators tracked 188 people with Type 2 diabetes and 188 people who had not yet developed the disease, setting the baseline 12 years ago.

"From the baseline blood samples, we identified a novel biomarker, 2-aminoadipic acid (2-AAA), that was higher in people who went on to develop diabetes than in those who did not," said Dr. Thomas Wang, director of the division of cardiology at Vanderbilt. "That information was above and beyond knowing their blood sugar at baseline, knowing whether they were obese, or had other characteristics that put them at risk."

The investigators went on to test 2-AAA in mice and found that it altered the way they metabolize glucose, possibly influencing the way the pancreas works in producing insulin naturally.

"2-AAA appears to be more than a passive marker. It actually seems to play a role in glucose metabolism," Wang said. "It is still a bit early to understand the biological implications of that role, but these experimental data are intriguing in that this molecule could be contributing in some manner to the development of the disease itself."

- here's the press release

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