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Local man feeling stronger and more energetic thanks to diabetes research trial


John Dickins, who has type 2 diabetes, is celebrating feeling stronger and more energetic this Diabetes Week since taking a medicine as part of a clinical trial. The medicine – called dapagliflozin - is part of a study sponsored by University of Leicester and being carried out at the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Patient Recruitment Centre (PRC): Leicester, which is based at Leicester General Hospital. 

John Dickins, 72, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes around six years ago during a routine check-up when registering at a new GP practice in Market Harborough. Diabetes is a disease characterised by high blood sugar levels that is also known to affect whole body health and fitness. People with type 2 diabetes may find their physical health declines at an earlier age than someone without diabetes, making everyday activities harder. Being overweight can make this even worse. 

Several treatments for type 2 diabetes may help with weight loss, with the potential to also improve overall physical health. Dapagliflozin is widely used in routine clinical care. It mostly works by reducing blood sugar levels and can help with weight loss. However the extent to which dapagliflozin can also help improve overall physical health is not known.

This study is looking at whether dapagliflozin can be used to improve overall physical health, measured by how easy it is to undertake activities of daily living, and whether combining it with a programme of exercise can make the benefits even greater. Researchers are also interested in the effect of dapagliflozin with and without exercise on blood sugar levels, as well as its impact on health as measured by other blood tests, the heart’s pumping ability and tests of physical activity.

Participants are randomly assigned to one of three groups. Those in the exercise group, like John, are supported to take part in 3 exercise sessions a week, lasting about an hour each. A qualified team member will personalise an exercise plan for each participant based on their ability, factoring in any personal goals or needs. Participants can choose to use the gym facilities on site, free of charge, or conduct their exercise sessions at home with virtual support from the team.

John is halfway through the trial and has been doing two sessions of exercise a week at the Leicester General Hospital and one at home. He explains: “It has been a learning curve for me – I had never been in a gym before joining this study! I am feeling a lot more energetic and my legs feel much stronger. I have enjoyed taking part and have lost 2kg so far. The team has been supportive, friendly and informative.” 

The study is taking place only in Leicester and is aiming to recruit 135 participants.

Melanie Davies, Professor of Diabetes Medicine, University of Leicester, Clinical Director of the NIHR Patient Recruitment Centre: Leicester and Principal Investigator for the study, said: “1 in 14 people live with diabetes in the UK. Research into new treatments is essential to ensure we can provide the best care possible. We are still looking for local people with type 2 diabetes to join this trial.

“I’m so pleased to hear how much John has enjoyed taking part in this study so far. Our friendly team at Patient Recruitment Centre: Leicester has a wealth of experience in caring for volunteers during their research journey and take time to answer any questions participants may have.” 

If you are interested in taking part or would like further information, visit our website https://www.leicesterbrc.nihr.ac.uk/themes/lifestyle/research/deta/ or contact the study team by emailing DETA@uhl-tr.nhs.uk or call 0116 258 8897.


Contact information: 

Rachael Dowling, Head of Research Communications 

Rachael.dowling@uhl-tr.nhs.uk or 07950 891193 (Monday/Friday)

Rosalind Moore, Communications and Engagement Manager

Rosalind.Moore@uhl-tr.nhs.uk or 07929 862697 (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday)

Sian Thanangadan, Communications and Engagement Officer

Sian.Thanangadan@uhl-tr.nhs.uk or 07971592030 (Monday/Friday)