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UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital studying biochemical markers in skin as early warning for diabetes in children

Friday, January 4, 2013

Non-invasive light scan may help with earlier identification and intervention

CLEVELAND -- Diabetes is a health issue affecting more and more Americans, including children and young adults. One in three children born today will develop the disease. Complications from uncontrolled diabetes may lead to blindness, nerve and kidney damage, heart attack and stroke.

Physicians at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital are conducting an innovative clinical trial to determine if biochemical markers in the skin may help predict which children and young adults are at high risk for the development of diabetes complications. The biochemicals are measured with a non-invasive light scan from a device called a SCOUT-DS made by Veralight, Inc., a medical device company based in New Mexico.

The scan of the skin around the elbow searches for Skin Advanced Glycation End Products (SAGE's), which are byproducts of incomplete glucose (or sugar) metabolism. The inability to properly burn sugar is caused by diabetes, leaving excess sugar in the blood stream where it does incredible damage.

The accumulated wastes that comprise SAGES can interfere with normal metabolic processes on the cellular level. Previously, SAGES could only be identified through a skin biopsy, but the SCOUT-DS allows for a non-invasive measurement of SAGES.

“SAGES are strongly associated with serious complications of diabetes, and have proven to be more sensitive markers of complication progression than HbA1c blood test in adults,” said Rachana Dahiya, MD, a fellow in pediatric endocrinology at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, and co-investigator in the study. “The less control someone has over their diabetes, the more SAGES will be present in their skin. If we can identify which SAGES can predict who is at high risk for development of complications, it will allow us to intervene earlier to prevent disease progression and premature death.”

The HbA1c blood test calculates the average amount of sugar in someone’s blood over three months. It shows how well diabetes is being controlled.

“Diabetes is becoming a global epidemic, and we are seeing children at younger ages presenting with the disease,” said Rose Gubitosi-Klug, MD, Ph.D., the Mary Blossom Lee Chair in Pediatric Diabetes and co-investigator of the study at UH Rainbow, and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. “These children are facing a life time of dealing with sugar control. If we can identify them earlier with a non-invasive, but highly specific test for SAGES, we can help lower their risk over their lifetimes.”

The study is supported in part by Veralight, Inc. and by UH Rainbow through donations from the Mary Blossom Lee Family.

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