Falkirk GP practice in ‘landmark’ bid to beat diabetes

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An un-named Falkirk GP practice has played a key role in medical trials which could see a breakthrough in the battle against diabetes.

Funded by Diabetes UK, the “landmark” trial has involved several Forth Valley practices, but the Falkirk one had the unique task of trying to tackle diabetes wih a special diet system that could one day help countless sufferers - and the results suggest startling success.

Others pursued standard methods so that the difference could be analysed.

The Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT), staged in Scotland and on Tyneside, showed that just under half of those who took part were in remission after 12 months.

The intensive weight management scheme called Counterweight - as used in the Falkirk practice - is delivered entirely in primary care.

The results have been heralded as a genuine medical breakthrough, suggesting that for many patients diet control could replace drugs, and put diabetes type 2 in remission.

The programme included a low calorie, nutrient-complete diet for three-five months, food reintroduction and long-term support to maintain weight loss.

NHS Forth Valley Weight Management Service Lead, Anne Clarke, said: “I think it’s very exciting to see these results.

“This will help shape how we plan Type 2 diabetes care in the future within the NHS Forth Valley area.”

Professor Mike Lean from the University of Glasgow, lead researcher of the DiRECT trial, explained: “Putting Type 2 diabetes into remission as early as possible after diagnosis could have extraordinary benefits, both for the individual and the NHS.

“DiRECT is telling us it could be possible for as many as half of patients to achieve this in routine primary care, and without drugs.”

“We’ve found that people were really interested in this approach – almost a third of those who were asked to take part in the study agreed.

“This is much higher than usual acceptance rates for diabetes clinical trials. ”

Dr Elizabeth Robertson, director of research at Diabetes UK, said: “These first year findings of DiRECT demonstrate the potential to transform the lives of millions of people.

“We’re very encouraged by these initial results, and the building of robust evidence that remission could be achievable for some people.

“The trial is ongoing, so that we can understand the long-term effects of an approach like this.

“It’s very important that anyone living with Type 2 diabetes considering losing weight in this way seeks support and advice from a healthcare professional.”

Diabetes UK has committed a further £300,000 to DiRECT, so that participants who wish to continue can be followed for up to three years and the cost-effectiveness of the programme can be evaluated.

This will help to establish whether a treatment of this kind could be offered to people with Type 2 diabetes in the future.