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Improving type 2 diabetes diagnosis and monitoring among ethnic minority groups

A new study into health inequalities in the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes amongst Black African, Caribbean, and some South Asian populations has begun in the Wolfson Institute of Population Health.

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As part of a £4.9 million Wellcome Trust grant, a team at Queen Mary have received £3 million to set up two new large studies over 8 years, one in a cohort of Black African and Caribbean patients with type 2 diabetes, and the other an in-depth study using continuous glucose monitors in existing research participants without diabetes. 

The NHS uses the standard HbA1c test to diagnose and monitor diabetes by taking a reading of blood sugar levels in the blood, and more than 50 million of these tests are carried out each year. However, genetic differences in particular groups affect the accuracy of results, which researchers believe may lead to delays in diagnosis and faster progression to diabetes complications. The project aims to understand individual blood sugar (glucose) levels more accurately, and the researchers hope that the findings will make the diagnosis and monitoring of type 2 diabetes more precise, ensuring that the people who need it get the best possible care and treatment. 

Sarah Finer, Professor of Diabetes at the Wolfson Institute of Population Health, and Queen Mary lead on the project said: ‘Our research will help us understand how many people are affected by these inaccuracies, and will make the diagnosis and monitoring of diabetes more reliable. This is crucial for the delivery of high-quality clinical care for all people at risk of, and living with, type 2 diabetes.’  

An estimated five million people live with diabetes in the UK, and people from African-Caribbean and South Asian backgrounds are disproportionately affected. Getting a prompt and accurate diagnosis is crucial to starting appropriate treatment and helps to avoid the risks of life-threatening complications associated with high levels of glucose in the blood.  

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