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Testing AGEs

While I am vacationing in New Mexico, I combined a little business with pleasure by visiting VeraLight Inc. in Albuquerque on Friday. I wanted to check out their device that uses fluorescence to non-invasively measure advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) in the skin.

In June when I went to the American Diabetes Association scientific sessions in Chicago, Dr. Andries Smit, the medical director of DiagnOptics in Groningen, The Netherlands, tested my AGEs with that company’s AGE Reader.

With that device I tested at a normal level. “You must not eat a lot of fried food,” Dr. Smit said.

The VeraLight device, which the company calls the Scout DS, also screens for type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes. I met with John Maynard, VeraLight’s vice president of development and engineering, who demonstrated the Scout DS and tested my AGEs levels with it.

Checking my AGEs on Friday

The Scout DS, which stands for diabetes screening, is VeraLight’s lead product. This startup company is one of four spin-offs of InLight Solutions Inc., formerly Rio Grande Medical Technologies. All of these companies developed out of work at the federal government’s Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque.

I asked John why should I or my readers be interested in screening for something we know that we already have. “For your family members,” he answered simply.

But testing our levels of AGEs is something that all of us can use – and particularly those of us with diabetes. The higher your level of AGEs the higher your risk of cardiovascular complications, John explained to me.

Our AGEs increase as we get older, so the acronym is appropriate. So the Scout DS takes our age into account in determining whether our level is high or not.

My fluorescence level tested at 24.1, which is low for my age. “Pretty **** good,” John told me. He has seen levels tested as high as 70.

Earlier I wrote here about Dr. Helen Vlassara’s research on AGEs. It indicates that eating fat and protein cooked at high heat results in high AGEs levels.

But this finding is controversial, John says. He thinks that how well our kidneys work is more important than what we eat, although both contribute to high AGEs.

Basically, our AGEs levels are “a diabetes odometer,” John says. It indicates how many miles we have put on our bodies.

VeraLight intends to submit the Scout DS to the Food and Drug Administration for its approval in December or January 2008. With luck in a year or two after that we all will be able to have our AGEs checked at clinics and doctor’s offices.

This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.

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