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Charity funds study hoping to reverse Type 2 diabetes

TEST: A nurse uses equipment to test a patient for diabetes (PA)

A NEW study seeking to help African Caribbean people suffering from Type 2 diabetes reverse the condition is set to gain funding from a charitable organisation.

Virgin Unite announced it is backing research built on the work of Newcastle University’s professor Roy Taylor, who established in 2011 that the condition can be reversed by a low-calorie diet involving weight maintenance.

Studies have found that people of an African Caribbean heritage are among the most likely ethnic groups to develop Type 2 diabetes – a condition which means the body cannot produce sufficient insulin.

Researchers at University of the West Indies (UWI) are now hoping to take Taylor’s research a step further by seeing how his methods will affect African Caribbean subjects who will be given an ultra low calorie diet in liquid form over eight weeks, according to Virgin Unite.

The charity said 25 people, who have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in the last six years, will be recruited for the study. Following the eight-week trial, they will go back to a “normal healthy diet” over a six-month period in which they will be given support with diet and regular exercise.

The study will be led by UWI’s professor Nigel Unwin and his team in collaboration with the Diabetes Association of Barbados and the Barbados Diabetes Foundation.

Depending on results, the charity claimed the study "could change the way Type 2 diabetes is treated in the future”, with current treatment often involving expensive and complicated operations, including gastric banding and bypasses.

Taylor said: “Type 2 diabetes is one of the major health problems in the Caribbean. This research will seek to answer two big questions. Firstly, will an African Caribbean population respond in the same way as people in North East England? Secondly, how well will a calorie-restricted diet be accepted in the very different culture of Barbados?

“This research is a huge step forward in the fight against Type 2 Diabetes, and the challenge now is to discover if the UK findings can be replicated across all ethnicities.”

Virgin Unite founder and business tycoon Richard Branson added: “Type 2 diabetes, the kind that afflicts nearly 400 million people around the world, is entirely preventable.

“There have been plenty of sceptics who don’t believe reversing Type 2 diabetes is possible, but the facts suggest this is the beginning of something very exciting. This has the potential to be life-altering and even life-saving for many people. We're really looking forward to seeing results later in 2015.”

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