Detect diabetes with a simple antigen test, says IISc study

Currently, researchers rely on Radioimmunoassay (RIA) to detect somatostatin levels which use radioactive materials and need to be carried out in labs only.

Published: 10th June 2023 08:09 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th June 2023 09:22 AM   |  A+A-


Image for representational purpose only.

By Express News Service

BENGALURU: Detecting diabetes can become as simple as taking a rapid antigen test for Covid-19.  Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have discovered that fluctuations in levels of other hormones such as somatostatin,  secreted by the pancreas, can have a major impact on developing diabetes. 

Scientists argue that usually one gets diagnosed with diabetes when they have high blood glucose levels either because their pancreas does not produce sufficient insulin, or their body cells do not respond to signals from insulin that tell them to use up glucose. This can be avoided by keeping levels of somatostatin in check and potentially detecting diabetes sooner. “Changes in somatostatin secretion can be one of the first signs of diabetes,” said Nikhil Gandasi, Assistant Professor, IISc. 

Somatostatin is secreted by specific cells of the pancreas, called delta cells. “It regulates insulin and glucagon which is another hormone that works hand-in-hand with insulin to maintain blood sugar levels,” said the study.  

Researchers found that when a person is diabetic, their body will secrete less delta cells which means less Somatostatin hormone. The experiment was conducted in pancreatic cells extracted from both mice and humans. The study was published in International Journal of Molecular Sciences called ‘Somatostatin Containing delta-Cell Number Is Reduced in Type-2 Diabetes.’

The team used artificially synthesised somatostatin to test its binding against several commercially available antibodies, in order to identify the one that bound to it most efficiently, which was used to develop the assay.  Similar to the Covid-19 rapid antigen test, the kit works like the standard Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay that uses antibody-coated plates to identify the presence of antigens in a sample.

Currently, researchers rely on Radioimmunoassay (RIA) to detect somatostatin levels which use radioactive materials and need to be carried out in labs only. “The procedure also takes three days to complete,” said Caroline Miranda, another first author and post-doctoral fellow at the University of Gothenburg.” The new kit will use less blood plasma compared to the RIA method. Researchers are developing the kit into a simple hand-held device that can be mass-produced.   

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