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  • Writer's pictureDan Daly

New Insights on Diabetes Screening Challenges for South Asian Communities in the UK


It was widely reported yesterday, that the commonly used HbA1c test for diagnosing and monitoring Type 2 diabetes, has been found to potentially deliver inaccurate results for tens of thousands of South Asian individuals due to a specific genetic variant prevalent in this demographic. This variant may cause the HbA1c test to give underestimated readings, leading to delayed diagnoses and potentially inadequate diabetes management for approximately 32,000 South Asian individuals diagnosed with diabetes and about 17,500 with prediabetes in England​ (Diabetes UK)​​ (NHS England)​.


This discovery is as disappointing as it is crucial because the HbA1c test is currently integral for diagnosing type 2 diabetes, monitoring people at high risk of Type 2 diabetes, and guiding the management of diabetes across populations. The identified genetic variant is carried by 7.6% of the South Asian population and is almost non-existent in other ethnic groups, highlighting the importance of personalised medicine and the need for diagnostic tools that can accommodate genetic diversity within different populations​ (The British Journal of Cardiology)​. The already large number of people with diabetes could have been significantly underestimated.


At Occuity, we’re already well aware that there are potentially millions of people who are at high risk of diabetes but just don’t know it. Which is why we’re working on alternative solutions to enhance diabetes screening and care through our innovative optical technology. As we previously announced, our work to develop a non-invasive device that detects Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs) in the eye has already delivered promising results in addressing these challenges.


In a follow-up expanded internal study, our device to detect AGEs in the eye demonstrated significant potential in providing accurate assessments of diabetes risk and progression. We believe this issue affecting the HbA1c tests won’t have an impact on our technique. Clinical trials will, of course, provide an answer.


Although there is a long way to go, we believe that our exciting technology could provide a viable alternative to the Hb1Ac test.


For more details on our technology and to view detailed results from our recent studies, visit our website: Occuity’s SD1 Diabetes Screening Prototype.


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