Diabetes is one of the top 5 chronic non-communicable diseases in Thailand and is directly related to the growing consumption of cheap, processed sugar among the population. . About 3.5 million Thais have been diagnosed with diabetes, and this number is expected to grow close to ten million in the next ten years. Diabetes claims millions of lives every year and is a leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke and amputation.
Diabetes is a lifelong disease in which there are high levels of blood sugar. The existing diagnostic tool for monitoring this health threat is invasive. A urine analysis may show high blood sugar but a urine test alone does not diagnose diabetes. Blood tests often are needed.
In diabetic patients, the body is unable to burn glucose because of no insulin or too little insulin. Instead it burns fat for energy and this produces a chemical called ketones. If left untreated, this process can lead to a condition called called Diabetic Ketoacidosis or DKA, a serious condition requiring immediate medical attention. Testing patients for a rise in ketones can prevent DKA and avoid trips to the hospital.
Traditional testing methods involve blood tests. However, a new device called G-breath has been developed by Dr. Srung Smanmoo, a researcher at the National Center Genetic Enginnering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC), the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), which detects ketones and other chemical markers such as acetone, ethanol, carbon dioxide and methyl nitrate in the breath of diabetic patients. Though the device is still at the prototype stage, it shows very promising signs of becoming an alternative to traditional invasive blood tests and could lead to a reduction in the number of cases of DKA.