Scientists at the School of Medicine of the Autonomous University of Coahuila (UADEC) will use mathematical models to diagnose with greater anticipation the onset of type 2 diabetes by analyzing alterations in glucagon molecule, improving the success of prevention programs.

Preventive programs against diabetes are much effective when people are not yet sick, when the body is only given a few signs that there is a risk of developing the disease, said Dr. Victor Daniel Boone Villa, research professor at the UADEC School of Medicine.

We are focusing on a molecule that is broadly known as the counterpart of insulin: glucagon. While insulin decreases the concentration of blood glucose, glucagon is a hormone that, when you have low blood glucose concentration, uses your reserves to return to normal levels,” said the doctor.

The importance of glucagon

Since 2006, reports showed an association between alterations in the metabolism of glucagon and development of diabetes.

Boone Villa explained that first they wanted to know how glucagon could be related to already known risk factors for developing diabetes. The best solution was a mathematical model that can be applied directly to the clinic. The amount of glucagon in a person’s blood can be associated with other parameters. This would allow them to calculate an index for the risk of developing diabetes over the following few years. With this information the onset of the disease could be prevented by detecting it with greater anticipation than with current diagnostic methods.

The specialist said that this project will employ the same technology of prefabricated trials that exists in other analyzes to study glucagon.

If the scientists found a relationship between glucagon and risk factors for diabetes —obesity, clinical history, body mass index, hypertension, hyperinsulinemia, etc.— they would be able to design a very robust diagnostic method.

The researchers said that according to the literature on the subject, the detection method will allow to know early signs of risk of developing diabetes between one and three years before the onset of the disease.

Next year the scientists will test their detection method in humans. In future, the scientists hope that this research can be set as part of a nationwide clinical protocol to help reduce the incidence of diabetes.