Research led by the University of Oxford has found that people may be able to test themselves for diabetes in the comfort of their own home, using a novel electronic screening device.
The device was trialled in both healthy volunteers and people with diabetes, both in the home and in the clinic.
The study found the device was popular, easy to use, and did not require any special training. This suggests it could be used to help screen people for diabetes in the community and researchers hope that may increase the number of people who are screened.
Published online in the journal Diabetes Care, the study was carried out by the Diabetes Trials Unit’s Translational Research Group (TRG) – a group supported by the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre.
Nearly three million people have diabetes in the UK, but many more may be unaware they have the condition.
Dr Angelyn Bethel, DTU Deputy Director and lead researcher on the study said: “Currently, doctors offer blood test screening to people who are thought to be at high risk of developing diabetes according to established risk factors like age or having a close relative who has diabetes.
“But this still requires people to come to a clinic or hospital with laboratory facilities to take the test. This new device would allow the initial screening test to be done at home, and only those most likely to have diabetes or pre-diabetes – the condition that leads to diabetes – would need to see their GP for confirmation.”
“People taking part in our trial liked the option to test at home rather than having to go to their doctors’ surgery. That added convenience might encourage more people to undergo screening,” continues Dr Bethel.
“A device like this has good potential as a research tool to help us find people eligible to take part in diabetes research studies, or could be used in parts of the world where access to laboratory facilities and skilled health care personnel are not available or the tests are too expensive,” she continues. “The prototype device tested lacked the necessary accuracy, but once this is corrected, our study shows that home diabetes screening could become a real possibility.”
James Jackson, CEO of SmartSensor telemed, the company who developed the test kit, said: “The test kit used in this study is designed to be accessible, convenient and easy-to use for patients, and cost-effective for healthcare providers. Following this study, we have substantially refined the device and expect it to be on the market in the second half of 2013.”
The research was funded by Novartis Pharma AG.