Experimental medicine describes investigations undertaken in people, to identify the cause of disease or to test the validity and importance of new discoveries or treatments. It has resulted in important advances in the understanding of diabetes and its complications. Examples include the knowledge:
- that diabetes comes in several types determined by a person’s genes
- that each type of diabetes may have different risks for microvascular complications or cardiovascular disease, and
- that individuals differ in their responses to treatments
It is obviously very important for people affected by diabetes that the opportunities to conduct such research are maximised.
Sometimes it is possible to combine clinical trials and experimental medicine investigations. One of the main reasons for imbedding experimental medicine into clinical trials is to improve research efficiency, so that we can answer two or more questions with one study, and therefore reduce costs and recruitment time.
Participating in the diabetes related research in Exeter was a very interesting, enjoyable and worthwhile experience. Each study visit was varied and it was fascinating to have all the different tests explained and shown to me, putting into context how the research will help those with or at risk of diabetes.A participant in an experimental medicine study in diabetes.
How can the Diabetes Research Network facilitate experimental medicine?
The network is facilitating experimental medicine studies in diabetes by:
- encouraging the embedding of these studies in network trials and other well designed studies, thus increasing the knowledge output each study provides
- sharing information on the availability of diabetes experimental medicine expertise with other researchers, funding partners and industry
- exploring opportunities to assist patient recruitment to experimental medicine studies in clinical research facilities
- working with the UK Clinical Research Network’s experimental medicine theme to reduce barriers to experimental medicine in the UK.