15/09/2023 | Press releases

Diabetes study to grow following success at Ipswich Hospital

A diabetes research study offering free continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) equipment for patients has been so successful it’s been given the go ahead to double the number of research participants.

The Freestyle Libre study is a study looking into the effectiveness of CGM devices for people with diabetes. Due to the success of the study running at Ipswich Hospital, researchers will now be able to recruit double the number of patients in the future.

woman looking down at bare upper arm scanning it with mobile phone
The FreeStyle Libre 2 device is a sensor placed onto on a person’s upper arm that delivers real-time, minute-by-minute glucose readings, automatically displayed on the FreeStyle LibreLink app on their phone

Patients, called participants in research studies, join the Freestyle Libre study and are given a device, which is a sensor worn on their upper arm that tracks their glucose levels. A recent update to the FreeStyle LibreLink app now enables people using the FreeStyle Libre 2 system to receive automatic glucose readings every minute.

The researchers at Ipswich Hospital worked with global healthcare company, Abbott, since 2014 when the device was first trialled and subsequently launched.

Helen Chapman wearing two different types of Libre device as part of the study

Helen Chapman, 43, is one of the current study participants at Ipswich Hospital and also an employee at ESNEFT. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 17.

She said: “I used to have to check my blood sugar with finger prick tests six to eight times a day – before meals or driving, after exercise or if I felt a bit odd.

“It soon became the new normal but then over the years two more family members were also diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes while aged two and 41 which made me sit and think about the everyday challenges so many people are facing and how relentless having diabetes can be.

“There isn’t a day off – you have to check every day throughout the day. I thought if there’s something I can do to help then I’m happy to get involved.”

Helen is now part of the FreeStyle Libre study and said she’s a big believer in how important new technology is and continued research into managing diabetes.

“Finger prick tests only tell you where you are now – they don’t plot what was happening when you were asleep or a few hours ago. It helps you tailor your insulin and get to know how you react to foods and exercise. The system also has alarms that go off if you’re not in a normal range.”

white-haired man in glasses
Professor Gerry Rayman

ESNEFT consultant diabetologist Professor Gerry Rayman said the Trust secured the first global patient to enter the REPLACE study back in 2014 and has since continued to support Abbott in its studies of the FreeStyle Libre sensors to validate the accuracy of the devices before they are made available worldwide. Being in the study offers a number of benefits to our participants.

He added: “It is great news we’re able to grow the study which has opened up access to a device some people may not have been able to use before. The study helps ensure the devices are accurate and gathering high-quality data to those not just on the study but to everyone using the FreeStyle Libre system.”

White-haired man in glasses
Jane-Zhixin Jiao

Senior diabetes research lead nurse Jane-Zhixin Jiao said the FreeStyle Libre study offers a vital lifeline to people living with the condition.

She added: “The study continues to run and is gathering crucial information to validate the performance of the FreeStyle Libre device before they can be purchased or given out on the NHS. This has changed the lives of people who live with diabetes nationally and internationally.

“With the trials running in the Ipswich Hospital diabetes research team, we are able to offer a great opportunity for people to try out the device to monitor their sugar levels and help keep in control of the condition.”

For anyone interested in signing up for the FreeStyle Libre study please contact the Diabetic Research Team by emailing Research.AdultDiab@esneft.nhs.uk

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