Over the last 2 years, we have invited both patients and healthy volunteers to take part in a high volume of clinical trials for drugs which aim to treat diabetes or diabetic symptoms. Why is this disease such a big deal? These recent statistics from the World Health Organisation speak for themselves:

  • An estimated 422 MILLION people worldwide have diabetes
  • This is figure has quadrupled since 1980
  • The number is set to double AGAIN in the next 20 years
  • Of all diabetics, around 90% suffer with Type 2.

To cut a long story short, diabetes – and type 2 in particular –affects a vast number of people globally now, and will do for the foreseeable future.

As the number of people diagnosed with type 2 increases, we are beginning to see how the condition fits into a wider health landscape. Driven by hectic modern lifestyles, we are all tending towards more ‘convenience’ food, which is often laden with sugar and fat. In the digital age, it is harder to detach from TV box-sets, video games, social media and email inboxes, and we’re generally leading less active lifestyles. Obesity is on the rise, and this is known to increase our chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

blood glucose testSo, why doesn’t everyone just lose some weight?

Well, there is a little more to it than that. Alongside lifestyle, several other factors impact who will and who will not contract the condition:

  • Genetics – you are far more likely to be diagnosed with Type 2 if a member of your immediate family has the condition
  • Age – although it is now being diagnosed in children as young as 7, risk of contracting type 2 increases with age. Medical advances have meant that we are generally living to a much older age, which might partially explain the rise in cases.
  • Ethnicity – type 2 diabetes is more prevalent in Afro-Caribbean, Black African, Chinese and South Asian communities.

In isolation, adopting a healthier lifestyle is not going to put an end to the growth of type 2 diabetes. We need improved medical and pharmaceutical options to better control it – and in the long-term, hopefully cure it.

But even if we accept that many cases of type 2 could be prevented by diet and exercise – does this make medical research in this area any less important?

diabetes is no jokeOne of the biggest challenges faced by Type 2 Diabetics is stigma. Because the disease is closely associated with lifestyle factors, there is a pervasive sentiment that Type 2 diabetics have ‘brought it on themselves’, and are less deserving of treatment than patients with other conditions. It is very common to see diabetes, and type 2 in particular, being treated as the butt of a joke.

This kind of attitude helps no-one. The fact is, over 370 million type 2 diabetics are currently living with an incurable disease which requires daily management, and which can result in coma, loss of eyesight, loss of limbs, and even loss of life. This is not a sentence which anyone ‘deserves’, and it would be unethical for the pharmaceutical industry to ignore such a serious health crisis!

But what about Type 1 diabetics? Type 1 happens when the pancreas completely stops producing insulin. Lifestyle factors play no part in the development of this condition. Many type 1s contract diabetes in early childhood, and must inject insulin several times daily in order to survive. Should our preoccupation with treating type 2 diabetes detract from type 1 research? Of course not – and fortunately, it doesn’t! A wealth of medicines and biotech instruments are being developed with the aim of treating or curing type 1 – from insulin inhalers, to the artificial pancreas, to 3D organ printing and pancreas transplants. And what’s more, treatments which are initially trialled in type 2s can often be adapted to benefit people with both types of the disease.

check-inIt is often possible for healthy men and women to take part in our paid clinical trials and help us to test type 2 diabetes treatments which could go on to benefit millions of people. Currently, we are also looking for type 2 diabetics aged 18-75 who use metformin, or control the condition through diet and exercise. If you think you would qualify, and you’d like to find out more, give us a call on 0113 394 5200 or apply here.