Breath test for diabetes

In autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes, the immune system mistakenly manufactures antibodies and inflammatory cells that are directed against and cause damage to patients' own body tissues. In persons with type 1 diabetes, the beta cells of the pancreas, which are responsible for insulin production, are attacked by the misdirected immune system.

MONITORING BLOOD SUGAR: Most people are familiar with diabetic testing -- drawing a small amount of blood, usually from a fingertip, to test the blood's glucose levels. "It's invasive. It's painful and it can be expensive," Pietro Galassetti, M.D., Ph.D., a diabetes researcher at the University of California, Irvine, was quoted as saying. "What we're trying to do here is to come up with something completely noninvasive."

At UC Irvine, researchers are working to develop a painless breath test to determine when a patient's blood sugar is high. Dr. Galassetti and colleagues tested the breath of ten children with type 1 diabetes. They took breath samples while blood sugar levels were high, then continued to gather samples as blood sugar levels dropped in response to insulin. They found methyl nitrate was as much as ten times higher than normal when blood sugar levels were high.

NO MORE NEEDLES? Dr. Galassetti cautions patients and parents shouldn't get ahead of themselves. More study is needed on this correlation before a breath test can become a widespread option. However, experts say a painless method to test blood sugar could make patients -- especially young ones -- more likely to test their levels and stay ahead of their disease.


Pietro Galassetti, M.D.
UCI Medical Center - Building 25, 2nd Floor
101 The City Dr.
Orange, CA 92868

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