Blood glucose levels are always changing – one minute they can be radically different from the other. This means that assessing chronic glucose levels is quite difficult. Now scientists from UCL and King’s College London determined that a simple earwax self-sampling device could be used to measure chronic glucose levels with 60% more reliability tha current gold standard techniques.
We know that millions of people in the world are suffering from type 2 diabetes, but the actual number is unknown. This is because scientists estimate that one in two adults with Type 2 diabetes are undiagnosed. This means that they do not get an appropriate treatment and do not even know about the necessity of adjusting their lifestyle and diet. And now, during the global COVID-19 pandemic, these numbers are likely to get worse, because people are not able to visit hospitals as often to get accurate diagnosis.
Currently, the gold standard for measuring glucose levels requires a blood sample. This is not a bad technique, but in order to achieve a diagnosis one does need to go to the doctor’s office. Also, scientists say that the reliability of these tests is not great, because actual glucose level is just approximated by looking at blood proteins. But what would be a better solution? Scientists believe that a self-sampled earwax test would be a better option even than the current gold standard techniques for assessing chronic glucose levels.
There already is a novel earwax self-sampling device, which is a bit like a cotton swab, just that the tip is covered with a sponge of organic material with a special solution, which detects glucose levels. Scientists invited 37 healthy participants to test this device. They had to go through a number of tests, which included a clinical earwax test, blood test and some tests after standardised meals. Scientists found that the earwax test was almost 60% more effective than glycated haemoglobin tests at reflecting average blood glucose levels and delivered results much quicker.
Rachel Batterham, one of the scientists in the research, said: “To prevent complications we need to diagnose people as early as possible, yet this has been hampered by lack of an easy-to-use screening test. This new device may allow mass screening and earlier identification of Type 2 diabetes”.
This test, developed by a company Trears, is likely to enter the market some time soon, although scientists are still planning larger trials to test the device. Previous tests didn’t include any people who already have diabetes. People concerned about their blood glucose levels could purchase this device and test themselves very quickly and safely. This would save them time and help them avoid diabetes complications.
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