A new diagnostic test for insulin resistance 

IPAN researchers are developing a test to make it easier for doctors to screen for insulin resistance. 

Identifying when someone is insulin resistant is important because the condition is a known precursor to type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. 

Insulin resistance happens when the body’s cells become less responsive to the effects of insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates blood sugar (glucose) levels. People can have insulin resistance for years and be unaware that they are at risk of heart disease and stroke. 

Professor Michelle Keske and team are developing a new low-cost, easy to perform diagnostic test that may more accurately detect whether someone has insulin resistance.  

The three-year project is supported by an Australian Government Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) grant. 

Professor Keske says the new test will better reflect what happens in the body, compared to common conventional tests such as glucose-only drinks or fasting blood tests.  

“We have developed a mixed nutrient flavoured milk drink with protein, carbohydrate and fat, which more closely resembles what people normally eat – so it is more relevant for measuring how the body normally responds to a meal,” she explained. 

 “With this project, we’re trying to determine whether the milk drink can identify insulin resistance that would otherwise go undetected with conventional clinical testing.”  

If successful, Professor Keske said the test would be an important tool that could prevent many people going on to develop chronic diseases, like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. 

The test is being developed with partner organisations Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing and Canberra Health Services and in collaboration with the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute and Victoria University.