This week has seen the launch in Scotland of a new initiative to raise the level of diabetes research being undertaken in the country, to develop a clinical trials infrastructure and to boost the number of patients being recruited into studies.

The government, the main organisations that fund British research, the National Health Service, academia, regulators, the pharmaceutical industry and patients are all working together on a co-ordinated agenda to boost clinical research in the UK after seeing a fallout as rival contenders in Central and Eastern Europe, Asia and South America offered to perform clinical studies more cheaply, recruit patients more quickly and slash through the red tape. This new network falls under the auspices of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration, an alliance of such stakeholders.

"Everyone recognised that we needed to make some fundamental changes to ensure that the UK remained at the forefront of medical research," Liam O'Toole, chief executive of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration, has told PharmaTimes previously. The first networks were in cancer and mental health, with several others coming on stream in medicines for children, diabetes and stroke, as well as dementias and neurodegenerative diseases.

This latest research network, based at the Ninewells Hospital and Medical School in Dundee, has been set up to accelerate the development and adoption of better treatments and new techniques in diabetes research and treatment. Among the new measures being put into place will be the creation of a research register of patients who have expressed an interest in joining clinical trials. Other plans include supporting primary and secondary care centres that want to step up the level of diabetes research being undertaken, including training specialist research staff.

A final focus will be on conducting nationwide epidemiological studies to examine how diabetes affects patients and relatives and how the disease can best be prevented and treated. Said John Petrie, who will lead the network: “This will help us engage even more widely with the general health community and the public, which will lead to real benefits in how we understand and treat diabetes.”