New Diabetes Biomarkers May Help With New Treatments
October 5, 2012

New Diabetes Biomarkers Could Help Develop New Treatments

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

Researchers from the German Institute of Human Nutrition and the Max Delbrueck Center for Molecular Medicine recently revealed that they have been able to identify 14 new biomarkers for type 2 diabetes. The findings are important, as scientists believe that these biomarkers may be able to help in the development of new treatments to help prevent the disease. The scientists also believe that the results of the study will help them understand the various elements that contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.

To begin, the team of investigators took blood samples from study participants in order to analyze their metabolites. Over 27,500 individuals participated in the joint ERIC-Potdsam study, the Augsburg KORA study and the Tuebingen Family Study. The study was a collaborative effort among the German Center for Diabetes Research and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

“The metabolites can also be used as biomarkers to precisely determine the risk of diabetes at a very early stage, since the study is based on prospective data, that is data that were collected before the onset of the disease,” said the study´s lead author Tobias Pischon in a prepared statement.

“The results of the new metabolomic analysis thus provide a good basis for developing new treatment and prevention methods."

Metabolomics looks at the network of metabolites of an organism to better understand the biochemical processes and biological systems. Metabolites are known to have diverse bio-functions, assisting cellular communication and regulation in some cases, while acting as building materials for cells as well as transports for energy in others. As such, any changes that occur in metabolite concentrations could possibly show differences in metabolism and provide early risk signs for disease.

With the new study, the researchers wanted to determine which metabolites in the blood that might provide more information on the mechanisms of how type 2 diabetes develops. They also wanted to understand the biomarkers that were associated with the increased risk of the disease. The group studied a total of 4,000 blood samples.

When researchers took the blood samples, participants had not yet developed type 2 diabetes at the time. After a follow-up period of seven years, the researchers found that 800 Potsdam study participants and 91 Augsburg participants were found to have developed type 2 diabetes. Of the 76 participants in the Tuebngen study, 76 were already determined to be at risk for type 2 diabetes but were healthy at the beginning of the study. A team of investigators from the Institute of Experimental Genetics of Helmholt Zentrum Muenchen studied the concentrations of 163 metabolites per blood sample and discovered that 14 of the metabolites had a strong correlation with the development of type 2 diabetes.

“In addition to simple sugars, the 14 identified metabolites include various protein components and choline-containing phospholipids which play a role in the structure of cell membranes and in the transport of blood lipids,” explained the study´s lead author Anna Floegel in the statement.

“Our findings particularly indicate a previously unknown role of phospholipids in type 2 diabetes development. This is a first clue which should definitely be pursued.”