20 December 2012

The national diabetes audit, published today (Monday) by the NHS’ Health and Social Care Information Centre, the charity Diabetes UK and the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership, found people with diabetes are 48% more likely to suffer a heart attack than the general population and 65% more likely to have heart failure.

The Tameside Hospital study is designed to investigate whether a new experimental medicine, Lixisenatide, when added to a patients’ usual treatment, can prevent further heart attacks or strokes. Lixisenatide is similar to a substance called glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), which is normally released in the bowel when people eat.

Overall, 6,000 people worldwide will take part in the study, with 125 participating from across the UK.

World renowned expert Dr Edward Jude, Tameside Hospital’s Consultant in Diabetes, Endocrine and General Medicine, is the chief investigator for the UK, and the hospital is the top recruiter in the North Sea Cluster, which covers the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Around one in 20 adults in the world have been diagnosed with diabetes and they are at high risk for cardiovascular disease. The higher a patient’s level of blood sugar, the greater the risk of future cardiovascular events, which can be fatal. Lixisenatide can help lower blood sugar level.

The study is comparing Lixisenatide with a placebo, both of which will be allocated to the patient at random by a computer, so neither the patients, their research coordinator, nor the patients’ doctor will know which of the two treatments is being used.

During the study, which could last between 10 and 47 months, patients are being given a once-a-day injection under the skin in the morning, similar to an insulin pen.

Joanne Vere, a Research Nurse at Tameside Hospital, said: “So far, two patients who at the start of the trial were told they might need a heart bypass operation in the future have since been told they no longer require surgery.”

She added: “Research today helps patients tomorrow.”

The study has been approved by the National Research Ethics Service, an independent group which protects the rights, safety, dignity and well-being of research participants.