Tuesday December 18, 2018

Diabetes would become a curable disease in the next few years, say researchers

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Washington: Although the way diabetics test their glucose levels has gone through dramatic changes over the past 50 years, there is still a long way to go, say researchers.

Earlier, the only way to assess diabetes control was by testing for the presence of sugar in a person’s urine, today there are numerous, far more accurate ways to test blood glucose levels.

There is a non-invasive A1C method which measures average blood glucose levels over a three-month period.

“This gives us a nice marker for showing whether a person is on the right road or not,” said Fred Whitehouse, division head emeritus at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.

“There has been a lot of change, most of it for the better. But what people want is a cure and we don’t have that yet”, he added.

“Despite the enormous growth in our understanding of diabetes and its complications, we are still only able to manage the disease,” noted Robert Ratner, Chief Scientific and Medical Officer for the American Diabetes Association.

The reason diabetes is a serious health problem is because of the complications.

“If there were no complications, diabetes would be like hypothyroidism and other easily managed diseases. You would take a tablet to replace the hormone and everything would be fine,” said Michael Brownlee from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Diabetes Research Centre.

New treatments must provide optimal glucose and metabolic control without the risk of hypoglycemia and complications of diabetes should become historical memories.

Also, every person with diabetes needs to create a system for remembering and dealing with his or her own treatment.

“The next 50 years must elucidate the mechanisms by which both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes occur, along with those critical steps at which we might intervene to prevent disease,” the authors emphasized during a special symposium held recently at the American Diabetes Association’s 75th scientific sessions. (IANS)

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New AI Model by Google Can Help Detect Diabetic Retinopathy

For this purpose, it recently launched the "Google AI Impact Challenge"

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Google's new AI model to help detect diabetic retinopathy. Pixabay

Google has developed an Artificial Intelligence (AI) model that can detect diabetic retinopathy with a level of accuracy on par with human retinal specialists, the technology giant said.

Google is working on “rolling out this diabetic retinopathy initiative in clinics in India with Verily” — an Alphabet-owned company which works on life sciences research and development, Kent Walker, SVP of Global Affairs at Google, wrote in a blog post on Thursday.

More than 400 million people in the world have diabetes. A third of them have diabetic retinopathy — a complication that can cause permanent blindness.

“Using the new assistive technology, doctors and staff can screen more patients in less time, sparing people from blindness through a more timely diagnosis,” Walker said.

While the blindness can be prevented, diabetic retinopathy often goes undetected because people do not always get screenings.

“In major part, this is due to limited access to eye care specialists and staff capable of screening for the disease. This is a problem that AI can help us solve,” Walker said.

“Deploying this technology in underserved communities that don’t have enough eye specialists could be life-changing for many,” Walker added.

Diabetes
Representational image. Pixabay

Google began work on the model in collaboration with eye specialists in India and the US a few years back. They developed an AI system to help doctors analyse images of the back of the eye for signs of diabetic retinopathy.

“The results were promising,” Walker noted, while adding “we should work to make the benefits of AI available to everyone”.

Google has for several years applied AI research and engineering to projects in Asia Pacific with positive societal impact, including stopping illegal fishing in Indonesia, forecasting floods in India, and conserving native bird species in New Zealand, the blog post read.

Also Read- U.S.A: Myanmar’s Military Campaign Against Rohingya Muslims a ‘Mass Genocide’

Besides healthcare, the tech giant also wants to support more Asia Pacific organisations in using AI to help society by engaging with governments, non-profit organisations, universities and businesses.

For this purpose, it recently launched the “Google AI Impact Challenge”.

“Selected organisations who apply to the challenge will receive support from Google’s AI experts and Google.org grant funding from a $25 million pool,” Walker said. (IANS)