Rewriting Life

Seeing Signs of Diabetes

Molecular traces spot the disease.

Scientists estimate that patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes have already lost 50 to 90 percent of their insulin-­producing cells by the time their conditions are diagnosed. A new molecular tracer could provide the first clear view of these cells in the pancreas, helping doctors detect and treat diabetes far earlier.

Preliminary tests show that PET scans using a new molecular tracer can distinguish between rats with healthy levels of insulin-­producing cells in the pancreas (glowing areas above) and rats whose ­insulin-producing cells have been chemically damaged.

The tracer was developed by Hank Kung, a scientist at the University of Pennsylvania. It binds to a receptor inside the cells and is tagged with a radioactive label that can be detected using positron emission tomography (PET).

This story is part of our September/October 2007 Issue
See the rest of the issue
Subscribe

Preliminary tests show that PET scans using the tracer can distinguish between rats with healthy levels of insulin-­producing cells in the pancreas (glowing areas in the image at left) and rats whose ­insulin-producing cells have been chemically damaged.

“If we could see cell loss early, perhaps we could get patients started on therapy before there is irreversible damage,” says Dan ­Skovronsky, founder and CEO of Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, the Philadelphia company that is developing the tracer.

Want to go ad free? No ad blockers needed.

Become an Insider
Already an Insider? Log in.

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from Rewriting Life

Reprogramming our bodies to make us healthier.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Basic.
  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.