New blood tests which aim to transform diabetes care in Tayside

A ground-breaking new approach to diabetes treatment is set to be trialled in Tayside following a £2.8m award from the Scottish Government Chief Scientists Office.  

The ‘intelligent Diabetes’ (iDiabetes) project is a joint initiative between NHS Tayside and the University of Dundee, in partnership with the University of Aberdeen and NHS Education Scotland (NES) Digital.  It will use what is called a ‘precision medicine’ approach, meaning that treatment is tailored to the exact needs of each individual patient, whatever their type of diabetes.

The project team will develop a new clinical platform which will allow enhanced testing and more sophisticated analysis of patients’ health data.  This will help clinicians to better understand each person’s diabetes, as well as their risk for complications.

Professor of Diabetic Medicine and Honorary Consultant at NHS Tayside and University of Dundee, Ewan Pearson, said, “Some people with diabetes respond better to or are more likely to get side effects with particular drugs.  Others are also at higher risk of developing heart, liver or kidney disease and we know that some medications work better in those at risk of these conditions.

“Once the clinical system has been developed, we will carry out enhanced blood testing on 10,000 blood samples from people with diabetes living in Tayside.  We’ll then use the results to provide a tailored approach to each patient’s care by deciding the best treatment for them based on their individual risks.

“This has the potential to radically improve patient outcomes by identifying the most effective medications at the earliest stage in treatment.  Basically, we will give the right drug to the right patient at the right time.”

Following development of the iDiabetes platform, the project team will begin testing in 2023 through randomly selected GP practices.  Patients will be informed at that time if their GP practice has been selected for the trial.

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