Yahoo! News recently carried a press release about a study published from researchers in the Neatherlands; their finding - subjects with diabetes glow in the dark. The researchers investigated the use of a new non-invasive tool to determine if it could accurately detect skin florescence due to the accumulation of AGEs (advanced glycosylation end products) in the skin of those with diabetes. AGEs are produced in the body when glucose binds with proteins - as they build up, they damage blood vessels and cause complications such as nerve and vascular damage.
From previous studies (Dec 2005; June 2005; July 2004) the researchers knew these AGEs have florescent properties, and this study "confirmed that those properties could be measured by illuminating the skin, and that high levels of autofluorescence were associated with more severe diabetes complications, such as neuropathy, retinopathy and cardiovascular problems."
The lead researcher, Dr. Helen Lutgers, said of the finding, "With this tool, doctors could easily check people with diabetes in an outpatient clinic setting to see whether they may already be developing dangerous complications. The sooner complications are detected, the better the chance of preventing progression of damage."
Here's the rub - while the device used in the study, DiagnOptics AGE-Reader, is available commercially in Europe and is being used by doctors there, it isn't available to healthcare professionals here in the US because it is "restricted to experimental use only," as it awaits FDA approval.
How insane is that? A non-invasive device - shine a light and then in 30-seconds have a result that offers a good measure of accumulated AGEs in the skin by the elbow - that can't get past the FDA approval process?
This is some pretty cool technology if you ask me. It's non-invasive, quick and from the data thus far, reliable and accurate. Considering the very damaging complications from diabetes, especially from AGEs, use of this type of device should be "standard of care" for those with diabetes. I'd even go so far as saying it would be a great add-on in the "standard of care" for any doctor's office visit since the test is quick and simple and the result could prompt further testing to see if someone who has a high measure of florescence has undiagnosed diabetes and is already suffering with complications even though they don't know it!