We want you in our war against diabetes
New study to recruit and track 2,300 volunteers in efforts to 'change the course of the disease'
Calling for warriors to go head-on with diabetes.
The National University Hospital (NUH) wants to enlist "soldiers" in Singapore to fight against this silent killer, and it is looking for 2,300 volunteers to sign up for this national service.
No uniform is needed.
Entitled Assessing the Progression to Type-2 Diabetes (APT-2D), it is the first time that researchers and doctors are collecting and studying an array of detailed biological, clinical, environmental and lifestyle information from participants with normal or pre-diabetic blood sugar levels to look at why people develop Type-2 diabetes.
The $20m landmark collaboration between the hospital and Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the largest study of its kind in Asia, is funded by the pharmaceutical company and the Health Ministry's (MOH) National Medical Research Council under the MOH Industry Alignment Fund.
Type-2 diabetes attacks when a person's pancreas does not make enough insulin to process sugar from the bloodstream, or when the body does not respond to insulin properly.
It affects about 400,000 people here and can lead to complications such as blindness, heart attacks and amputations if it is not managed properly.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong had declared war against diabetes in Parliament earlier this month.
Senior consultant with the Division of Endocrinology at NUH Sue-Anne Toh, who is leading the study, said the 2,300 volunteers - 800 of whom will be healthy and 1,500 pre-diabetic - will be tracked for three years and their data studied to identify biomarkers that contribute to Type-2 diabetes.
"These include genes, protein in the body, diet, physical activities and lifestyle. We aim to use the results to develop more targeted and effective interventions to improve the outcomes for every patient with or at risk of Type-2 diabetes and change the course of the disease," she said.
Determined that her children and siblings join the battle, Madam Benet Salina Abdullah, 69, who is diabetic, signed them up. The housewife herself was not diagnosed until 2006, the year her younger daughter got married.
Elder daughter Za Rita Mahat, 36, told The New Paper: "Normally the mother of the bride would lose weight and look good, but everyone commented that my mother had put on weight and was looking puffy."
At her worst, Madam Benet Salina's blood glucose level was 18 mmol/l (millimole per litre). Today, she has brought it down to between 4 and 5.5mmol/l.
Learning that physical activity helps bring down the blood glucose level, Madam Benet Salina does brisk walking, plays pickleball and badminton, and swims.
A fan of The New Paper Big Walk, she has participated in it since 2006.
Madam Benet Salina not only signed her children up for the study, but she also managed to convince her siblings to do the same.
Madam Za Rita, also a housewife, said: "That was how one of my uncles discovered he has diabetes."
According to an International Diabetes Federation (IDF) report last year, Singapore has the second-highest proportion of diabetics among developed nations after the US.
It said 10.53 per cent of people here aged between 20 and 79 are estimated to have the chronic disease.
We aim to use the results (of the study) to...improve the outcomes for every patient with or at risk of Type-2 diabetes and change the course of the disease.
- Senior consultant with the Division of Endocrinology at the National University Hospital Sue-Anne Toh
APT-2D: large scale diabetes study
The diabetes study marks the first time researchers are collecting and studying an extensive range of biological, clinical, environmental and lifestyle data from the 2,300 volunteers.
Senior consultant with the Division of Endocrinology at NUH Sue-Anne Toh, who is leading the study, said they are looking for 800 participants with healthy blood glucose levels and another 1,500 who are pre-diabetic - that is, those who have borderline high blood sugar levels.
"The recruitment period is from now till 18 months. They will be tracked for three years to see if they develop Type-2 diabetes. We will assess how well their bodies can secrete and respond to insulin," she said.
"We will also be looking at diet and lifestyle practices."
The team is looking at individuals who are:
- Between 30 and 65 years old;
- Healthy, with no known history of diabetes or chronic diseases that need long-term medication;
- With normal blood sugar level or pre-diabetic (borderline high blood sugar levels).
Those who are interested to be part of the APT-2D study can e-mail the research team at firstname.lastname@example.org. They can also call 9135-4495 or 9131-4490 during office hours.
Diabetes by numbers
The number of diabetics in Singapore today.
The projected number of diabetics in Singapore by 2030.
1 in 3
Ratio of people who do not know they have the disease.
1 in 5
Projected ratio of people with diabetes in Singapore by 2050.
The yearly cost of dealing with diabetes in Singapore.