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Top 10 research priorities for Type 2 diabetes uncovered

Thousands of people with Type 2 diabetes, carers and healthcare professionals have chosen their most important priorities for Type 2 diabetes research, thanks to a process steered by leading diabetes charity Diabetes UK. 

Finding ways to cure Type 2 diabetes, or to put the condition into remission, emerged as the key priority for people with Type 2 diabetes and healthcare professionals. Other priorities included preventing Type 2 diabetes from developing, slowing its progression, and supporting people to best manage their condition. 

Scientists and research funders usually make decisions around what to research. But Diabetes UK is committed to giving people with diabetes a louder voice, and to making the research it funds as relevant as possible to them.

In 2016, the charity launched a Priority Setting Partnership with the James Lind Alliance to find the unanswered research questions that matter most to the Type 2 diabetes community. 

John Turner, who lives with Type 2 diabetes, said:

“I wanted to make sure the opinions of people with Type 2 diabetes count, and to help scientists focus on the issues most important to us. I left the process feeling empowered, confident in the future of research and full of hope.” 

Katie Gray, a podiatrist who treats people with Type 2 diabetes, said:

“My experience as a healthcare professional has made me realise that more research is needed to help understand diabetes, its complications, and how to best support patients. I wanted to get involved as I thought that research judged as a priority by those on the front line of Type 2 diabetes could have great value.”

Dr Elizabeth Robertson, Director of Research at Diabetes UK, said:

“By knowing what matters most to people living with or treating Type 2 diabetes, we now have a chance to drive research forward and direct funding to where it’s needed most.

“As the leading charitable funder of diabetes research in the UK, we’ll use the Type 2 priorities to help us make decisions around what to fund. We’ll also be encouraging scientists and other research funders to tackle these priorities. 

“Research focused on these issues has the opportunity to significantly improve the lives of people with Type 2 diabetes in the future.”

The top 10 research priorities for Type 2 diabetes: 

  1. Can Type 2 diabetes be cured or reversed, what is the best way to achieve this and is there a point beyond which the condition can't be reversed?
     
  2. How do we identify people at high risk of Type 2 diabetes and help to prevent the condition from developing?
     
  3. What is the best way to encourage people with Type 2 diabetes, whoever they are and wherever they live, to self-manage their condition, and how should it be delivered?
     
  4. How do stress and anxiety influence the management of Type 2 diabetes and does positive mental wellbeing have an effect?
     
  5. How can people with Type 2 diabetes be supported to make lifestyle changes to help them manage their condition, how effective are they, and what stops them from working?
     
  6. Why does Type 2 diabetes get progressively worse over time, what is the most effective way to slow or prevent progression, and how can this be best measured?
     
  7. Should diet and exercise be used as an alternative to medications for managing Type 2 diabetes, or alongside them?
     
  8. What causes nerve damage in people with Type 2 diabetes, who does it affect most, how can we increase awareness of it, and how can it be best prevented and treated?
     
  9. How can psychological or social support be best used to help people with, or at risk of Type 2 diabetes, and how should this be delivered to account for individual needs?
     
  10. What role do fats, carbohydrates and proteins play in managing Type 2 diabetes, and are there risks and benefits to using particular approaches?

Download the full top 10 research priorities report for more information. Diabetes UK now plans to use these priorities to stimulate research that will have the greatest possible benefit for those living with Type 2 diabetes. 

Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition and one the fastest growing health crises of our time. There are currently 4.5 million people in the UK living with diabetes, and around 90% of these have Type 2. Almost 12 million more are at increased risk of developing the condition. 

Despite this, research investment into diabetes lags behind other major health conditions, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. The current UK spend on cancer research is estimated to be around £500 million a year, while £165 million a year is spent on cardiovascular disease. In comparison, diabetes research receives £60 million a year. 

This means that for every £1 the UK spends on caring for diabetes, it invests just half a penny in research.

Find out more about the Type 2 Priority Setting Partnership and what Diabetes UK plan to do next with the priorities you've chosen.

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