£2.6 million to create new approach to care for the under 40s with type 2 diabetes

Funding for a five-year project, that aims to develop a new type of care package that addresses gaps in support for people under 40 living with type 2 diabetes, has been awarded to a research team in Leicester.

The £2.6 million project called ‘M3’ is led by Professor Melanie Davies, director of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) and Leicester Diabetes Centre (LDC), and brings together experts from across the UK and abroad. Researchers will work with patients, healthcare professionals and NHS decision makers to develop the programme.

The news comes ahead of Diabetes Awareness Week (14-20 June). Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which the body struggles to process blood sugar, causing a higher chance of health problems, such as heart attacks and strokes. In the past, type 2 diabetes mostly affected only older adults, but over recent years, the number of people being diagnosed at a younger age has increased. 

When type 2 diabetes occurs in people under the age of 40 it is considered ‘early onset’. Early-onset type 2 diabetes often occurs alongside other conditions such as obesity and high blood pressure, as well as mental health problems like anxiety or depression, and is associated with an increased risk of developing harmful health problems over these people’s lives.

People with early-onset type 2 diabetes also often have very different lives and circumstances to older adults. However, existing treatments and programmes to help people self-manage their diabetes have been based on evidence from research studies in older people. A previous Lancet report has highlighted the need to help the growing number of younger people living with diabetes worldwide.

Dr Jack Sargeant, a researcher on the M3 project said: “We often hear that people with early-onset type 2 diabetes struggle to find advice and resources that address the issues they have, whether that’s mental health or family life or something else. By designing this programme with people who live with early onset type 2 diabetes, we will develop the treatment packages that these people need to get the best care possible.”

The project includes an ambitious range of activities to ensure the research is accessible and relevant to people from a variety of backgrounds and circumstances, including people of different ages and ethnicities, and with different working and family circumstances. This work will include a large ‘consensus conference’, where people from different backgrounds and life experiences will come together with the research team and people from the NHS to design the programme collectively. 

After the programme has been designed, a clinical trial to test the new approach will run from sites in Leicester, London, Derby, and Liverpool. 

Professor Melanie Davies, who is Professor of Diabetes at the University of Leicester, said of the new project: “By hearing from patients and healthcare professionals we hope to create a new type of care to meet the needs of people with early onset type 2 diabetes and improve their wellbeing. We also want to use the very latest technology and approaches to really make a difference.”

If you are under the age of 40, living with type 2 diabetes and would like to get involved in the project, please contact: M3research@uhl-tr.nhs.uk