More accuracy in predicting diabetes seen

May 03, 1994|By Dan Hurley | Dan Hurley,Medical Tribune News Service

A new group of three blood tests is more accurate than current tests at predicting who will develop the most severe form of diabetes, researchers reported at a Baltimore meeting this weekend.

But while researchers at the University of Colorado say the combined tests can catch 99 of 100 people at high risk of `D developing insulin-dependent diabetes, a researcher involved in a national study aimed at preventing the disease says the results need to be confirmed by other laboratories.

"The results are promising, but other laboratories have not had such good results with one of the tests," says Dr. Noel K. Maclaren of the University of Florida at Gainesville. "More studies by other laboratories are necessary."

Dr. Maclaren is involved in a study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health aimed at identifying people at high risk of developing diabetes and preventing the disease. The NIH study, launched in January, still is seeking brothers, sisters and children of insulin-dependent diabetics anywhere in the United States to receive the free tests.

The tests being used both by the NIH and the Colorado researchers are designed to find specialized white blood cells known as auto-antibodies that attack a person's own insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. The process ultimately causes the destruction of the person's insulin-producing cells, causing him to become an insulin-dependent diabetic.

The point of using the antibody tests is to allow doctors to determine who is on the way to becoming diabetic. If caught early enough, doctors believe it may be possible to prevent people from developing insulin-dependent diabetes.

In the new study reported this weekend, Dr. Massimo Pietropaolo of the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes at the University of Colorado in Denver used a combination of three auto-antibody tests. One of them, called the ICA69 test, was developed by his group last year. Two others, known as GAA and IAA, have been used by other researchers, although researchers have not yet agreed on how best to use the GAA test.

By combining all three of the tests, Dr. Pietropaolo found that he can accurately identify 99 percent of people who will develop diabetes, compared with an 85 percent rate in the NIH study now under way.

He says the new tests probably will become standard within a couple of years.

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