More adults are now being diagnosed with diabetes than ever thus making it a cause for concern among the American population, especially adults who are risk of developing type 1 and 2 diabetes. CDC (2014) estimates that 11.3 percent of adults between the ages of 20 and 60 have diabetes. Additionally, diabetics are more susceptible to other complications, for instance kidney failure, hypertension, lower limp amputations or depression. It is thus important to use new diagnostic tools for the treatment and management of diabetes in adults.
Diabetes is a metabolism disorder, which leads to high blood sugar levels because an individual is unable to produce enough insulin or their body cells are resistant to insulin (Maahs, West, Lawrence & Mayer-Davis, 2010). The disease is categorized into type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. Patients with type 1 diabetes fail to produce insulin while type 2 diabetics produce inadequate insulin for proper body function and beta cell dysfunction. Conversely, gestational diabetes affects women during pregnancy. Further, diabetes is now the seventh leading cause of death in America today.
However, Zhang, Kumar, Dai and Feldman (2014) presented a research study with evidence that a plasmonic chip can be used for biomarker discovery and diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. The chip which was invented by researchers at Stanford University can detect biomarkers, for instance autoantibodies that are insulin-specific, as a fast and simple method of detecting type 1 diabetes in its early stages (Zhang et al., 2014). Moreover, the authors assert that the cheap, portable microchip-based test for type 1 diabetes could be essential in boosting patient care world over as well as in assisting researchers to better comprehend the disease.
By using the plasmonic chip, health practitioners would be able to distinguish type 1 diabetes from type 2 with ease as the two begin to overlap. Further, the two types of diabetes have different causes and treatments. Early treatment would give room for the best possible treatment since the existing diagnostic tests are not only slow but expensive (Zhang et al., 2014). Nanotechnology is used to detect type 1 diabetes outside hospital settings. Zhang et al. (2014) further explain that type 1 diabetics have high concentrations of autoantibodies against pancreatic islet antigens, for example tyrosine phosphatase, glutamic acid decarboxylase and insulin. Autoantibodies against insulin are the first to detect thereby giving an indication of type 1 diabetes as opposed to traditional methods, such as radioisotopes which is slow (Kumar, Gupta & Feldman, 2015). Therefore, a simple finger prick can give results in the same day.
The microchip is made by coating gold nanoparticles to glass slides. The gold-coated chip is capable of creating a microarray of antigens from patients with a new-onset diabetes. Moreover, the antigen can spot fluoresce one hundred times more at lower concentrations due to the plasmonic gold coating. The nanoparticles in the microchips interact heavily with light thereby allowing the plasmonic resonances to act as probes in biological molecules on infrared light. Zhang et al. (2014) believe that their research will address the existent clinical need for enhanced diagnosis of diabetes as well as other diseases, such as heart disease by use of ultrahigh sensitivity.
Due to increasing number of adults with type 1 diabetes, early assessment and aggressive treatment would enhance the patients’ long-term prognoses hence stopping the autoimmune attack on the pancreas to enhance the body’s ability to produce insulin (Krishnamoorthy, 2015). The microchip is expected to cost approximately $20 to produce and can be used in up to 15 tests and would use less blood sample that the earlier test methods. The adults encouraged to take the tests include the obese who at risk of developing type 1 diabetes. Moreover, delayed diagnosis of type 1 diabetes may lead to more complications, severe illnesses and even death. Zhang et al. (2014) further explain that the new invention has a high sensitivity as well as specificity for type 1 diabetes diagnosis in addition to being able to discover the formerly unidentified biomarkers of type 1 diabetes.
The authors used electron micrograph in the research to show gold islands and Nano-gaps in the plasmonic chip as well as a demonstration of schematic depiction of the spatial relationship of the invention’s PEG layer to detect the antibodies that have been conjugated with a fluorophore signal. The samples that were used for the experimentation process contained concentrated autoantibodies in serum (Zhang et al., 2014). Three experiments were done separately and a comparison of the number of dynamic insulin-specific autoantibody and detection limits done between the RIA and the plasmonic chip and a mean standard deviation recorded.
The technique will extent the benefit to the patients’ close relatives who are at risk of developing type 1 diabetes as the medics will find it easier to track the relatives’ autoantibody levels before symptoms can be evident (Kumar, 2014). Moreover, the technology will enable healthcare practitioners to screen a large number of people cheaply and at a very low cost. It is also apparent that even though an individual may not display any symptoms yet, one autoantibody linked to diabetes in the individual’s blood may prove a risk in future. Therefore, high chances of arresting, treating and managing the disease at early stages will be possible through the new invention.