Diabetes UK has so far invested £4.7 million funding specialist research into how the condition affects Asian, Black and minority ethnic peoples according to new data released by the charity.
Research is vital as the condition develops and progresses in different ways for people of different ethnicities. For example, people from South Asian communities are two to four times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than White Europeans.
The funding has so far supported 41 projects across the UK, with over £3.6 million spent in the last decade alone.
Diabetes UK Director of Research, Dr Elizabeth Robertson, said: “Some of us are at increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, so our research aims to find out why that is and what we can do about it. We’re building on the results of remarkable research that has already been supported by Diabetes UK.”
Biology of different ethnic groups
Current research includes a project at King’s College London, looking at how the biology underlying the development of Type 2 diabetes can differ in people from different ethnic groups. In the future, this information could help to tailor therapies that can prevent or treat Type 2 diabetes to those who will benefit most.
Dr Louise Goff, the lead investigator on the project at Kings College London, said: “Type 2 diabetes is less closely linked to levels of fat around the waist and high blood cholesterol for Black African people than for White European people. Finding out more about what causes Type 2 diabetes is essential, so we can use the right strategies to prevent the condition from developing.”
Tackling rates for South Asian people
In 2012, Diabetes UK funded researchers at the University of Leicester to develop a Type 2 diabetes screening questionnaire that could be used in non-English speaking communities that were at a high risk of developing the condition.
Naina Patel, the lead researcher on the project, said: “We know that there can be higher rates of undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes and diabetes-related complications among South Asian people. It’s therefore important that the tools used to screen people for Type 2 diabetes are easy to use and understand, to make them more effective at identifying those at risk.”
Diabetes UK also provided the initial support for the Southall and Brent Revisited (SABRE) study, which monitored the health of 4,200 Londoners and discovered that half of all British South Asians, Africans and African Caribbean’s will have Type 2 diabetes by the age of eighty, compared to one in five people of European descent. The SABRE study is ongoing, and has helped push the need for Black and South Asian people to be screened for Type 2 diabetes earlier than the general population.
Priorities for the future
Recently Diabetes UK asked people with Type 2 diabetes and healthcare professionals to submit their questions and concerns about Type 2 diabetes research, which will guide the charity’s top ten priorities for funding in the future. Nearly 1 in 4 of the responses are from people of BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic background, to ensure future research work reflects the needs of everyone with Type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes UK Engaging Communities Manager, Krishna Sarda, said: “While research helps to find solutions for the future, there are steps all of us can take now to reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, or to manage the condition more effectively if you already have it. Our Community Champions go out to engage with people who have the highest risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, explaining what it is, who is at risk, signs and symptoms, myths and misconceptions, complications and NHS services.”
For more information on the research Diabetes UK funds, visitour research pages.
Find out more about Diabetes UK community championshere