Diabetes screening without tears

Researchers claim a non-invasive, bloodless diabetes screening device can diagnose more patients than traditional blood testing methods.


The ‘Scout’ device, developed by VeraLight of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was able to identify nearly 30 per cent more patients than the faster plasma glucose (FPG) test and 17 per cent more patients than the A1C test. It measures so-called advanced glycation endproducts (AGE) skin biomarkers known to be associated with diabetes.


According to the World Health Organisation, 50 per cent of people with diabetes are not identified until they are 5-to-9 years into the disease. By this stage, often-irreversible complications will have occurred. The researchers said bloodless screening of diabetes-linked skin biomarkers could be a major tool to manage the global epidemic and its complications, especially in high-risk individuals.


The product of VeraLight’s proprietary SAGE (Spectroscopic Advanced Glycation Endproducts) detection technology, Scout is a portable, desktop system weighing about 4.5kg. After the subject places the palm side of their forearm onto the system, the device shines various wavelengths of light onto the skin that causes the AGE to emit a fluorescent light signature that indicates diabetes risk.


The instrument optically calibrates for skin pigmentation so that performance is not diminished by skin coloration. A specially designed fibre-optic probe couples the excitation light to the subject and relays resulting skin fluorescence to a detection module. The system’s software uses multivariate statistical techniques that are applied to the emitted light spectra to obtain a diabetes risk score. Total measurement time is about a minute.


The device is slated to be available from mid-2008, initially in the United States and later into Europe.