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Biotech Science

New MRI Technique Can Detect Diabetes 183

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the image-in-the-possibilities dept.
MonkeyBoy writes "Researchers at Joslin Diabetes Center and Massachusetts General Hospital have unveiled a new magnetic nanoparticle based magnetic resonance imaging technique that can detect diabetes even before clinical symptoms. In mice they were able to take non-invasive images of pancreatic inflammation and its reversal for type 1 diabetes. Full article is available as a PDF from Pubmedcentral. Will we see rapid translation of these pre-clinical observations to prediction and/or stratification of type 1 diabetes and treatment of individuals with the disease? This would provide a crucially needed early predictor of response to therapy. As an added bonus it looks like the analysis was done on a Linux box too."
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New MRI Technique Can Detect Diabetes

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 21, 2005 @07:34PM (#13368560)
    Sweet!
  • Why not? (Score:4, Funny)

    by SilentReallySilentUs (908879) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @07:36PM (#13368572) Homepage
    Sure.. MRI should be able to scare away diabetes with the ridiculous sounds it makes..Gosh why did no one think of this before?
    • Re:Why not? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      That's about what I was thinking, as a diabetic myself. However, if you can couple it with Dr. Faustman's work on dealing with Type 1 diabetes by altering the auto-immune response that kills insulin producing cells, it's a useful diagnostic tool that doesn't require slaughtering your mice to get enough tissue to do a real count for beta cells.

      But it's absolutely useless for the 95% of diabetics who have Type 2 diabetes, which involves a resistance to insulance rather than a complete destruction of the insul
      • Re:Why not? (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        It's getting better all the time for diabetes research.

        Type 2 diabetes may be helped by some recent research [alertnet.org] announced in July showing a link between insulin resistance and a protein called retinol binding protein 4.

        Manipulating levels of this protein in mouse models appeared to alter levels of insulin resistance and provides a new avenue for drug therapy. So even if this MRI study isn't clinically useful at the moment, there are other promising advances that suggest that both type-1 and type-2 will be ev

  • by GXFragger (758649) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @07:37PM (#13368577)
    Yay! Now they can detect my Mountain Dew drinking habits and force me to go cold turkey even when I'm still in denial!
  • Linux box (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 21, 2005 @07:38PM (#13368586)
    This once again proves that the OS is unimportant, and only the application matters. Who cares what OS was used to run the program that allowed this development? Certainly not the patients that benefit from it.

    http://www.residentcynic.net/ [residentcynic.net]
    • Re:Linux box (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Yeah really.

      The MRI system could have run just about any other OS. What difference would it have made if it was a BSD system or a SCO (groan) system? What about OS X? (Though you wouldn't hear the end of the fanboy propaganda on that one).

      This isn't about scaling a giant application across 9 thousand processors to deliver record performance.
      • My thoughts exactly. After a point it gets ridiculous, I can understand it on performance-related articles but in an article that says "Scientists cured cancer, announced on a page on a Linux webserver", well, that's just silly.
        • It kind of reminds me how "MTV News" back in the day would report on a massive hurricane in the South Pacific, and follow up with how it's expected to impact Whitesnake's tour plans.
    • This once again proves that the OS is unimportant, and only the application matters. Who cares what OS was used to run the program that allowed this development? Certainly not the patients that benefit from it.

      That's a very short-sighted view of things. If the Linux box proves to more reliable than the alternatives then that might mean the difference between 1000 scans per year and 995 scans per year. To the 5 patients who otherwise wouldn't have received an MRI scan, the fact that it's Linux is impor

    • Who cares what OS was used to run the program that allowed this development?

      The doctors probably shouldn't care, but this is a news site for Geeks. We care about the OS. We (most of us) like to see companies ignore FUD and bogus TCO studies. We (most of us) gleefully point-out that when lives are on the line, many companies don't trust Microsoft products.

  • MRIs gone wild (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sigmaseven (906671) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @07:41PM (#13368597)
    That's fantastic, but it's going to take a lot of persuasion to get me to go near an MRI willingly after seeing its effect on nearby hospital equipment [simplyphysics.com]. You're only as safe as the stupidest person in the room.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 21, 2005 @08:00PM (#13368667)
      One place I worked, the MRI was placed in the basement, just below the main server room.
      Predictably hilarious consequences happened.
      Hospital management. Gotta love 'em.
    • I had an MRI a few years ago, and I almost had something like this happen. I was wearing a thin stainless steel neclace with a small steel pendant, which I had forgotten to take off. Fortunately, the technician saw it before I went in the tube. When I handed it to her, it was hanging at a 45 degree angle even though it was about three feet from the foot of the tube. I wonder what would have happened if I had gone into the tube wearing it.
      • Re:MRIs gone wild (Score:3, Interesting)

        by krautcanman (609042)
        For the most part you probably would have been ok. The chain would have ruined the data, but the MR tech would have caught that during setup. At worst the metal could heat up and burn you (no joke), though it doesn't happen most times.


        Speaking of MRIs gone wild, so many women who come in for (research) scans make some joke about how the magnet might be so strong it'll rip their bras off.
    • Re:MRIs gone wild (Score:4, Insightful)

      by deglr6328 (150198) on Monday August 22, 2005 @01:21AM (#13369779)
      Oh please, irrational much? You could probably count the number of recorded fatal accidents in the history of MRI on one hand and how many people have had the procedure? Tens of millions, likely. The benefits of having an MRI so vastly outweigh the risks it is not even a tradeoff worth talking about at all.

      Anywho, I think that MRI is easily one of the most strangely fantastic technologies of the last 50 years. Its like a bit of the 21st century accidentally fell into the last quarter of the 20th. Think about it. This is a device which you can slide a person into and 15-20 minutes later have high resolution (millimeter scale and now in 3D if necessary) images of any part of the inside of their body, making diagnoses of certain diseases which were impossible before, possible, and doing it without any harm (not even exposure to any ionizing radiation) to the patient at all. The patient feels, smells, tastes, and sees nothing whatsoever during the entire process. It is amazing. If ever there were a technology which met Arthur Clarke's maxim of 'any sufficiently advanced technology being indistinguishable from magic', then this is it!
      • Oh please, irrational much? You could probably count the number of recorded fatal accidents in the history of MRI on one hand and how many people have had the procedure? Tens of millions, likely. The benefits of having an MRI so vastly outweigh the risks it is not even a tradeoff worth talking about at all.

        The problem is that people are irrational. Which is why it's MRI and not NMRI (The N is for nuclear, which, thanks to the stupid treehugging hippies, is the kiss of death for any technology - the N had t

  • by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Sunday August 21, 2005 @07:47PM (#13368612) Homepage Journal
    Just reading the summary, it says the box might run on Linux?

    This is a good thing, now if only the pharmaceutical companies would make alot of their stuff open to the public, maybe we'd all not suffer nearly as badly due to our wallets not being fat enough.
    • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @07:54PM (#13368639)
      This is a good thing, now if only the pharmaceutical companies would make alot of their stuff open to the public, maybe we'd all not suffer nearly as badly due to our wallets not being fat enough.

      Methink you're talking bollocks for the sake of plugging "open source" somewhere...

      What "stuff" is it that pharmaceutical companies need to "open to the public"?

      New medicines must be fully disclosed when they undergo FDA approval, and they always end up completely open because they're patented, and a patent describe the invention/innovation completely. If you don't believe me, ask yourself how it is that countries like India or Brazil manage to copy the very latest in AIDS therapies.

      The reason you pay dearly for medicines that haven't fallen in the public domain is because yoy purchase them from the patent holders, which hold a temporary monopoly on said medicines, and therefore make you pay whatever the hell they want, to recoup their development costs and to pay for their villas in Switzerland.

      In short, it's nothing to do with being open, and all to do with patents. Wrong Slashdot meme there bubba...
      • In short, it's nothing to do with being open, and all to do with patents. Wrong Slashdot meme there bubba...

        I disagree and I won't back up my claim with proof, but here's my point any way.

        It's not the final product that needs to be more open, it is the research for the hundreds of products that never make it to a final shipping product. With traditional university-style research it is 'publish-or-perish' which, while increasing the noise level, tends to get the useful info out to others who can make better
        • Warning: NOT a flame. Read on.

          While you're lecturing us on economics, howbout you talk about the economics of free and open research you mention? Seriously, profit maximizing is the only reason these companies are in business, and they happen to be in the business of coming up with new drugs and therapies to save lives. Take away their economic incentive and they're no longer going to innovate. If you want to be altruistic about it and you're an American, just realize we bear the cost of R&D on
          • While you're lecturing us on economics, howbout you talk about the economics of free and open research you mention? Seriously, profit maximizing is the only reason these companies are in business...

            You are making the common mistake of conflating Free (libre) with free (no cost). My point is that there is a lot of research work that is just moldering away in the archives of these companies because they don't know what to do with it. It isn't bringing them any more profit and without a miracle, it never wi
            • I did misinterpret your point then. But in regards to that, they did pay for the research, so they should be entitled to do what they want with it.

              Now, releasing it under some sort of license where a for-profit derivative work requires them to receive, say, 20% of revenue or something like that.. now that COULD be a nice way to make money off of shelved research. I'd love to see that.

              Like I said, though, I did happen to agree with you on the point that it isn't helping themselves or anyone else. A
    • by Anonymous Coward
      It's medicine. I don't care if it runs on linux, windows, or monkeys with typewriters. The price of medicine is not related to the OS under the hood. The importance of medicine is not related to the OS under the hood. The availablilty of medicine is not related to the OS under the hood. Something like an MRI scanner costs so much that the OS needed to run a piece of analysis is negligible.

      Screw linux. Hoorah for those who can be helped.
  • All I know is... (Score:5, Informative)

    by yellowbkpk (890493) * on Sunday August 21, 2005 @07:50PM (#13368623)
    I was just at a meeting at a meeting at a major healthcare company, and number two on the list of priorities for the next 3 years was diabetes detection/prevention. The budget was in the billions.

    These guys will be making a LOT of money.
    • I had a friend who used to research at Mass general hospital years ago. The problem is not the budget. Problem was always "people resources".

      MA has one of the highest turn over rates for doctors in the country. Doctors make the same nationwide, they prefer not living in a state with inflated real estate prices and top-10 worst traffic and winters. The influx of student doctors from local colleges overwhelm these hospitals. Which forces any veteran doctor... a teacher. That's 2 jobs in 1.
  • by IvyKing (732111) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @07:53PM (#13368638)
    The original push for MRI (from Damadian) was to locate cancers - the main benefit is eliminating a lot of exploratory surgeries. In this case it eliminates the need for biopsies (which, from TFA, are rarely performed due to the risk). Very nice work.

    This is an interesting application of magneto-immunoassay - using the change in magnetic properties to determine if there has been a reaction.

    • This is good stuff but still no cure for (my) diabetes! Now all we have to do is make the MRI process less fear-inducing - my mother went for one last week and ended up physically sick and would not stay in the machine. The nurses said it was a common problem and many people can't handle the scanning process.
  • Get The Facts (Score:5, Informative)

    by pin_gween (870994) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @08:01PM (#13368670)
    I am posting instead of replying b/c there are already several separate posts that have it wrong. Gasp and shock, I know.

    Type I diabetes [wikipedia.org] is NOT associated with diet.

    This article refers to an autoimmune disease, not a lifestyle induced one.
    • Re:Get The Facts (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      However, the condition can be precipitated by lifestyle choices in those who are predisposed to the disease.

      That's a fact, jack.
  • PubMed abstract (Score:5, Informative)

    by whovian (107062) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @08:10PM (#13368713)
    J Clin Invest. 2005 Aug 18; [Epub ahead of print] Related Articles, Links

            Noninvasive imaging of pancreatic inflammation and its reversal in type 1 diabetes.
    Turvey SE, Swart E, Denis MC, Mahmood U, Benoist C, Weissleder R, Mathis D.

            Section on Immunology and Immunogenetics, Joslin Diabetes Center, and Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

            A major stumbling block for research on and treatment of type 1 diabetes is the inability to directly, but noninvasively, visualize the lymphocytic/inflammatory lesions in the pancreatic islets. One potential approach to surmounting this impediment is to exploit MRI of magnetic nanoparticles (MNP) to visualize changes in the microvasculature that invariably accompany inflammation. MNP-MRI did indeed detect vascular leakage in association with insulitis in murine models of type 1 diabetes, permitting noninvasive visualization of the inflammatory lesions in vivo in real time. We demonstrate, in proof-of-principle experiments, that this strategy allows one to predict, within 3 days of completing treatment with an anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody, which NOD mice with recent-onset diabetes are responding to therapy and may eventually be cured. Importantly, an essentially identical MNP-MRI strategy has previously been used with great success to image lymph node metastases in prostate cancer patients. This success strongly argues for rapid translation of these preclinical observations to prediction and/or stratification of type 1 diabetes and treatment of individuals with the disease; this would provide a crucially needed early predictor of response to therapy.
  • MRI (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mchawi (468120) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @08:14PM (#13368735)
    I have heard from several people that have had an MRI that (a) it is almost impossible to get scheduled in any reasonable timeframe for one and (b) they are 'incredibly expensive'.

    For something like diabetes that can be diagnosed in other ways, I don't see a normal doctor or health insurance company prescribing an MRI. Health care is one of the areas where capitalism is really the wrong motivation (because our long term health is not their concern - just short term costs).

    I guess I'm just cynical, but I see some of these great advances being almost useless to the majority of people because they simply can't afford it or don't even have healthcare.

    I keep hoping for things to change though :)
    • I have heard from several people that have had an MRI that (a) it is almost impossible to get scheduled in any reasonable timeframe for one and (b) they are 'incredibly expensive'.

      Scheduling is not where I live, but they are spendy. But MRIs are considered a "cash cow" for most hospitals and facilities that have this expensive equipment. Health care is in fact a business.

    • Re:MRI (Score:3, Interesting)

      Health care is one of the areas where capitalism is really the wrong motivation (because our long term health is not their concern - just short term costs).

      A friend's mother was in England, where capitalism isn't an issue in health care, and had a sudden problem with her heart. The ER doctor told her that when she got home, she should get on the waiting list for a bypass. She just gave him a funny look. When she got home, she talked to her regular MD, and he scheduled her for it within a week. Of cour

      • Re:MRI (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Sparr0 (451780) <sparr0@gmail.com> on Sunday August 21, 2005 @09:36PM (#13369054) Homepage Journal
        Sure, if you have insurance. And if you don't, you're fucked. And if everyone had insurance... then there would be waiting lists.
        • I don't need to pay no steenking insurance company; I have VA benefits.
        • Personally, I dislike the socialistic solution to the problem, but also the capitalistic/insurance solution.

          Now in general, I favor small government, but regulation is necessary sometimes (especially with regard to the physical health of the citizens). Frankly, medical care is too expensive. And I'm not just trolling, it really is. It's a scam that starts at the med schools and continues on to the hospitals and the medical equipment producers.

          Now, there is need for reliable medical equipment, properly

        • Most people in this country have insurance. The number of people who could "afford" bypasses if everyone had insurance would less than double with universal insurance.

          What makes it so there are no lines in the US is the ridiculous amount of money to be made, since we don't have a single payer system. There are plenty of heart doctors because heart doctoring pays big bucks.

          So, if we went to a socialized medicine system, then perhaps there would be lines. With no real money as the scarce resource to decide wh
        • by bluGill (862)

          If you don't have insurance there are charities that will help your out. Ask your doctor, or the hospital front desk if you need this. Generally the hospitals will give you a big discount (that is you pay for power and tech time, but not payments on the machine) - this wouldn't work if most people used it, but most people have insurance, so they can write off costs for those that don't. Once in a while there are fund raisers for those in my community who need something major but don't have insurance.

          M

      • There's not even if you lack insurance. You'll have the procedure first then work out the bills later. It's your life we're talking here, and you're paying a guy to cut you open and stand over you for 6 hours on average to do a coronary bypass. Let me ask, what do YOU think that sort of procedure is worth? Then consider what the doctor takes home on that procedure, generally a few thousand. The rest is all hospital and OR fees.

        Seriously, these things cost a lot of money and you can't just print more
      • You may not know this, but almost every doctor does work for free. I get nothing from about 10-20% of my patients, and even lose money on some (medicare, etc). Any, and every academic/county/state hosp in the USA does charity work, and the state/federal governments provide medical coverage for pts with no insurance. We often have a saying "No insurance is the best insurance" - meaning, that we can just put the uninsured pt on charity care and do the operation, WITHOUT having to go thru all the red tape
    • Re:MRI (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rcolquhoun (659601) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @09:08PM (#13368928) Homepage

      I have heard from several people that have had an MRI that (a) it is almost impossible to get scheduled in any reasonable timeframe for one and (b) they are 'incredibly expensive'.


      So is diabetes.

      I am a type 1 diabetic and it costs thousands perhaps 10's of thousands per year to manage(if you include side effects, lost opportunities etc). This will be the case for the rest of my life(hopefully 50+ years, although diabetes has a major effect in shortening it).

      If it can be prevented by a series of MRI's + drugs or any other treatment for that matter that costs less than say $100k if will be economic for most pre-type 1 patients(ie children) to undertake.

        - Robert
      • It may not be worth spotting early if it turns out to be curable after the fact, which it might ultimately be [unisci.com]. Though I would imagine that if swelling of the pancreas can be spotted on an MRI, so can a lot of other things they haven't yet thought to look for. This might end up being a broad, multi-purpose diagnostic that is cost-justified because it eliminates so many other procedures.

        I can see it going either way. :/

        Mal-2
    • Health care is one of the areas where capitalism is really the wrong motivation (because our long term health is not their concern - just short term costs).

      This is not entirely true, after all, from their perspective, the best outcome is a person who lives long (pays premiums) but doesn't spend all that much money while they are living. That requires a certain amount of prevention. (And of course, dies in their sleep. 1/3rd of health costs in the US (or, alternatively, 4% of GNP) is spent on the last 60 day
    • by q2k (67077)
      Maybe if you live in Canada or some other country where healthcare is rationed by the government. I needed an MRI last year and it was scheduled 2 or 3 days later. Who pays for it may be an issue, but there is no shortage of MRI machines in the US. It's that capitalism thing. Hospitals like buying equipment that can generate lucrative cash flows into the forseeable future.
    • by iabervon (1971)
      It's always beneficial to have additional diagnostic techniques that use existing equipment, rather than needing special equipment for everything. If doctors prescribe more MRIs, hospitals will buy more machines, and companies will invest money in making them less expensive to buy and run.

      MRI is also a major research technique, and there's a reasonable chance that finding a way of seeing something on an MRI will lead to cheaper ways to screen for it. This research gives us a better idea of the initial effec
    • I cannot understand why an MRI is so expensive other than the fact that it must suck some massive current to get the fields up to par.

      Just within 1.5 miles of me there are at least 5 MRI machines at various locations. So its not exactly a situation where I'd have to wait for one should I desire.

      I think part of the reason we have so many is because of Brown Medical School. The folks there do some very interesting fMRI stuff.
    • Depends on a variety of things, including where you live, insurance etc.

      One thing is that the scanners themselves are expensive, but once they're running, the more scans you do, the cheaper they become. More use does lead to more breakdown/servicing but on the whole, the cost decreases.

      Another thing is that you can do more directed scans. A few images from a pancreas only takes a few minutes, rather than the 30-60 minutes some things need where a variety of imaging modalities are used for a large(ish) part
    • by jafac (1449)
      I have heard from several people that have had an MRI that (a) it is almost impossible to get scheduled in any reasonable timeframe for one and (b) they are 'incredibly expensive'

      Depends on your health insurance.

      My insurance took 6 months before they finally got around to approving an MRI for my back problem. They were all too happy to approve about $2000 worth of drugs and physical therapy, all of which turned out to be useless for my problem. They approved this therapy to defer the inevitable MRI - whic
  • Yay for medicine! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Boone^ (151057) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @08:19PM (#13368749)
    This is quite the breakthrough, and these things seem to happen out of technology we already have but just haven't used it in the right way. Personally, I'd settle for a cure for cancer being found on a Windows box if it meant saving lives. :(
  • Dystopia (Score:5, Insightful)

    by philovivero (321158) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @08:22PM (#13368758) Homepage Journal
    Will we see rapid translation of these pre-clinical observations to prediction and/or stratification of type 1 diabetes and treatment of individuals with the disease? This would provide a crucially needed early predictor of response to therapy.


    Perhaps this wonderful new technology will be used by insurance companies to deny your child insurance before the diabetes could possibly cut into their profit margins?

    Sorry. There should be a "cynic" moderation.
    • Re:Dystopia (Score:4, Interesting)

      by philovivero (321158) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @08:33PM (#13368797) Homepage Journal
      Hmm. It does occur to me that post could be seen as flamebait. Allow me to elaborate.

      My wife got pregnant and got what apparently is a common problem: diabetes. She controlled it using exercise and diet. Then, after she gave birth the diabetes does what it does when it's pregnancy diabetes: it went away.

      Then, about a year later, I changed jobs and decided I wanted to get insurance for her independent of the job, because their insurance was expensive. We answered all the questions on their questionnaire, including the requisite "diabetes" question. We then filled out in the "explanation for 'yes' answers" section a note about how the diabetes was minor and temporary.

      They categorically denied to insure her in any way, shape, or form. No "You are qualified for our high-risk" plan or anything, just: "You are uninsurable by us (go to hell)."

      So actually we kind of live in the dystopia I described. When I read this story, I wonder to myself "Could this tendency toward diabetes that she got have been detected, and if so, would she have been preemptively cured, or preemptively disallowed from being insured?"

      Think about it.
      • Is impossible to get independently. But there are laws (at least in the US) that say that you cannot be turned down for a group plan (ie, your employer's) because of your illness. It's pretty much the only way a diabetic can have insurance.
      • Re:Dystopia (Score:2, Interesting)

        by martalli (818692)

        Gestational diabetes is absolutely a risk for later progression to type II diabetes mellitus. Before anyone gets compltely outraged, this is a known fact, and that's why the insurance company flatly refused her.

        People want to believe that if they are doing all the right things, such as styaing slim, getting a reasonable amoutn of exercise, not smoking, and eating right, they shouldn't be turned down for insurance. Well, the fact is that the insurance company only wants completely healthy folks. Dependi

  • Amiga Man (Score:3, Funny)

    by Digital Pizza (855175) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @09:26PM (#13369016)
    As an added bonus it looks like the analysis was done on a Linux box too.

    Back in college I had an Amiga 500 that I loved hacking on (dating myself here), but a guy I knew was not only really into the Amiga, he had to work it into practically every sentence. He'd raise his hand in Compsci classes and brag about how "My Amiga can do that better" and "That's so much easier on My Amiga". Even I grew sick of hearing the word "Amiga". He earned the derisive nickname "Amiga Man".

    Apparently he's now "Linux Man"and works for Slashdot.

  • by martalli (818692) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @09:44PM (#13369089) Homepage
    As a doctor, I had a few observations about this
    stusdy. These researchers demonstrated that an
    MRI can find evidence of diabetes in mice before
    the development of clinical symptoms. How does
    this relate to people?

    1. Practical: Type I diabetes typically develops in
    children, who usually must be sedated and
    observed for an MRI. This could double the cost
    of the MRI (typically $1-2k in US). Also, we
    don't know how long these findings are present
    before diabetes develops ... how often would
    this need to be done?

    2. The Incidence of type I diabetes is about
    0.4% among people without relatives with
    type I. First degree relatives have a 5-30%
    risk... Certain genes predispose to type I
    diabetes.... maybe this could be used in certain
    people.

    3. Since there is no such early diagnosis, we
    don't really know who we might treat this
    pre-type I state. Certainly we could make a
    few reasonable guesses, but any benefit is
    still in doubt until there are human trials.

    I think this will definitely be more handy when
    tricorders are perfected!

    • So, is diabetes a viral disease that is just incredibly hard to catch and with a disastrous ending?
      • by martalli (818692) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @10:47PM (#13369329) Homepage

        Sometimes, a person's immune system might confuse some viral proteins with the proteins on the pancreatic beta cells (which make insulin). This leads to the immune system attacking the beta cells. Eventually no beta cells are left and a person requires insulin to replace their natural insulin production.

        There is nolikely specific infection which causes diabetes. However, some viruses may be more likely to confuse the immune system. Also, your immune system's genetic makeup may predispose it to confusing the virus and the beta cells.

        Insulin is required to move glucose from the bloodstream into cells. Without it, the bloodstream glucose level rises until glucose spills out into the urine. In fact, diabetes mellitus is Greek for "sweet urine". Unfortunately, diabetics are literally starving in a sea of food.

  • Lots of cool marker based diagnostic methods are possible. These methods basically take a non invasive assay and use it to predict whether you have a specific disease/phenotype. Microarrays, proteomics, and analysis of bodily fluids (urine, blood, saliva, etc) all have potential to create noninvasive diagnostics.
  • by rc5-ray (224544) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @09:56PM (#13369135)
    (Disclaimer: I'm a primary care doctor in the USA. I have a few type I diabetics, and many type IIs.)

    First, I think it's great that the researchers have demonstrated a potential way to identify pre-clinical type I diabetes. If these patients could be easily identified and the pathologic process halted or reversed, this would be one of the greatest feats ever accomplished in medicine.

    However, this approach has several problems. Another poster has already mentioned that health insurance companies could start denying coverage to kids(and adults) who don't have diabetes, but might get it. If you're a health plan administrator, diabetes is a very, very expensive disease and you want to avoid these patients.

    (Whether health insurance companies should even be in the business to make a profit is a topic for another debate. Short answer: It's absolutely wrong.)

    More importantly, who do you screen with MRI? Do you screen every child at age 5 (or another pre-defined age)? Do you only screen them once? It's true that most type I patients are diagnosed by the early teens, but a significant portion develop the disease in their later teens or twenties. I have a 20 year old patient who was just diagnosed with type I after the birth of her first child. I also had a medical school classmate who was diagnosed while in his residency.

    Once you've decided who you'll screen and at what age and interval, how do you pay for it? This cannot be ignored. An abdominal MRI can cost $1-3,000, and you often need to sedate patients because it's quite claustrophobic. If you were to screen every child only once, the cost would skyrocket into billions of dollars almost immediately.
  • by waffffffle (740489) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @10:50PM (#13369336)
    The subject of this thread is not correct for the Slashdot audience. A more appropriate subject would be "Linux cures diabetes."
  • The reviewer and posters are sort of missing the point, here, which is that if you inject about *2 grams equivalent for a human* i.e. 20 mg/kg of starch coated rust (dextran coated iron oxide) intravenously into a mouse, or presumably a person, you can see where it preferentially leaks out of microscopic blood vessels in areas of inflammation (here inflammation in the pancreatic islets due to autoimmune diabetes) by MRI (changes in the spin relaxation time).
    Now that's a hack, to my mind way better than ma
  • False Questions (Score:4, Interesting)

    by lousyd (459028) on Monday August 22, 2005 @12:21AM (#13369612)
    Will we see rapid translation of these pre-clinical observations to prediction and/or stratification of type 1 diabetes and treatment of individuals with the disease?

    Yes.

    I love these questions! They do the same thing on NPR. "Mr. So-and-So, do you think that this Gaza strip pullout will mean that peace negotiations can continue, thereby creating a harmonious world balance where children hold hands and laugh gaily, frolicing through streets lined with happy merchants selling kumquats at a mere 15 cents for a dozen? Yes or no?"

  • by Viadd (173388) on Monday August 22, 2005 @12:35AM (#13369649)
    This new technique is neat because it works at smaller applied magnetic fields, of order a few Gauss (Earth's field is ~1/3 - 1/2 Gauss). This means you don't need big bulky claustrophobic expensive helium-cooled superconducting electromagnets, but can use simpler, cheaper coils.

    Basically, you get injected with a bunch of small particles of magnetite, which magnetically saturate at low fields. If you hit an unsaturated particle with a varying magnetic field, its magnetization varies and it gives a signal that can be detected by a readout coil. When the particle is saturated by a few Gauss field, then additional field variation doesn't change the magnetization, and so there isn't much signal out.

    By scanning an applied semi-static few-Gauss field, with a gradient so that the field is zero in some region, you can differentially look for signal in the zero region. By scanning this zero region around the body, you can cover the entire body region by region and so build up a 3-D image of where the magnetite particles are.

    (This is assuming that this is the same technique as was reported in Nature a few weeks ago.)
  • by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Monday August 22, 2005 @07:43AM (#13370599)
    AS a Type 2 Diabetic, This scheme sounds ridiculous as a *useful* tool: For several reasons:
    • Most diabetics are "type 2", which usually dont have anything to do with pancreatic inflamation.
    • Even for "type 1's" or peole at risk of type 1, what are they supposed to do, get a MRI every day, at $800 per scan?
    • Even so, even if an inflammation is found, what can be done? Be on immuno-surpressors for a long long time?
    This sounds like a technique more usueful for ivory-tower research on the progression of inflamation, not terribly useful to the end sufferer.
  • I'm glad it runs Linux because everyone knows that MRIs cost so much and are so complicated only because they run Windows. I bet now that they are running Linux, a MRI will only cost about $20 and any 10th grader will be able to operate it.

    Another added benefit will be its superior security. I'd hate all those MRI machines connected straight to the internet to be vulnerable to hacking. Someone could take control and give a patient a superdose and inadvertantly give them superpowers!

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