- The availability of diagnostic tools for biochemical characterization of the pancreas in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes (T1D and T2D, respectively) is limited.
- A new method that uses vibrational microspectroscopic technology can help indicate biochemical changes in the pancreas.
- The technology uses finger prints to study the disease progression in diabetes.
A new method that helps study the biochemical changes in the pancreas may help in early detection of diabetes.
The method, recently published in Scientific Reports, is based on molecular spectroscopy and can be used to extract biochemical profiles (or "fingerprints") containing information about disease progression.
The method could facilitate improved understanding of the mechanistic processes on molecular and cellular levels that are key to the development of diabetes.
The pancreas is a key organ for the development of diabetes, one of the greatest health issues in the world. Though the number of individuals with diabetes is expected to rise, the methods to study biochemical changes directly in the pancreas are limited.
Different compounds have unique molecular vibrations that can be detected using infrared light or laser. These vibrations contain information about the sample's chemical composition, including molecular characteristics, prevalence and structure.
The method uses vibrational microspectroscopic technology, including Fourier Transform Infrared (FT-IR) and Raman microspectroscopy. It is usually very difficult to interpret the extremely complex results and vast amount of data that this kind of assessment produces.
By using advanced statistical methods, researchers can filter out "noise" such as, for example, natural variations. This results in a better overview and allows researchers to focus on the important factors.
"This method is well-suited for studying biological samples, since it does not damage the sample, does not require external markers such as antibody labels, and can be used in microscopy settings. The method can for example be used to determine which cell types are affected in a certain tissue, where and how," says András Gorzsás, researcher at the Department of Chemistry and co-author of the article.
Creating Biochemical Fingerprints
A method for multivariate statistical analysis enables scientists to handle multiple variables simultaneously and thus analyze complex data from vibrational microspectroscopy of the pancreas.
The method is used primarily to study plant tissues but is possible to discover previously unknown biochemical changes in the pancreas during disease development. In addition, previously known changes in the tissue may also be detected, but at even earlier stages of disease progression compared to what has been described by other techniques.
"By using this method we can create biochemical fingerprints of all changes occurring in the pancreas. The fingerprints inform us of what cell type we are looking at, which animal model it comes from and how far the disease has progressed. These fingerprints are so precise that even unknown samples can be classified if there is available reference material," says Ulf Ahlgren, Professor of Molecular Medicine and co-author of the article.
Benefits of the technique
- Without the need to obtain tissue samples, the method can be used to analyze both mice and human pancreas.
- In a transplantation experiment that pancreatic tissue (so called Islets of Langerhans) may be studied in vivo (i.e. in the living organism).
- The method can be used to develop better prognostic and diagnostic tools for diabetes.
The researchers are also hopeful that their findings can lay the foundations for developing better tools for identifying cancer tissue to be surgically removed as part of pancreatic cancer treatment.
- Ulf Ahlgren et al., Biochemical profiling of diabetes disease progression by multivariate vibrational microspectroscopy of the pancreas, Scientific Reports (2017) http:dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-07015-z.