Our Future Health: One million sign up to help change healthcare

by | Nov 5, 2023 | Health

By Fergus WalshMedical editorThe UK’s biggest ever medical research project – Our Future Health – has signed up its one millionth volunteer just over a year since it started recruiting. Funded by government and industry, the eventual goal is to enrol five million adults. They will share genetic, health and lifestyle information.Researchers then analyse the causes of disease and look for new treatments, or ways to prevent diseases.Once people sign up online they are invited to have a series of health checks performed at a mobile health centre, which are often located in supermarket car parks. I went to one of the centres in a retail park on the outskirts of Oxford, and spoke to some of the volunteers. Each gave a blood sample, and had cholesterol, height and blood pressure measurements taken. The whole appointment takes around 15 minutes. Volunteers also fill out lifestyle and medical questionnaires online. Jaap Van Der Werf, 45, who is originally from the Netherlands, cycled six miles for his appointment. He knows the importance of keeping fit when it comes to maintaining good health, but also realises that genetics play a part. He told the BBC: “My parents have heart issues, so I wanted to make sure that I don’t have them. And if I have something, I can make sure my children are well prepared for their future.”Gillian Ebberson, 67, is already a member of UK Biobank, a similar project set up two decades ago, which is following the health of 500,000 adults in the UK. She was wearing a heart monitor as part of UK Biobank research. She has grandchildren and wants any health advances to help them.”I just think going forward for the future health of our children, our grandchildren and for everyone, it’s a good thing.”Dr Raghib Ali, the Chief Medical Officer of Our Future Health, is an intensive care consultant in Oxford, so spends most of his time in A&E. He told the BBC: “Most of my patients come in with things like a heart attack, stroke or cancer, and we know these diseases have developed over many years. With Our Future Health we are trying to move our model of healthcare from the treatment of disease at a late stage when people have symptoms, to one where we identify those at high risk earlier, intervening and preventing those diseases in the first place.”He also said it was important that people from all backgrounds signed up to prevent any further widening health inequalities, after a relative lack of diversity in previous studies. Our Future Health is funded by the government and industry. The project team say volunteers’ data is being kept in a “very secure environment” and only scientists whose research has a public health benefit will be given access.Our Future HealthI am also a member of both UK Biobank and Our Future Health. The new project has more personal health feedback – you come out of your appointment with a small folder of health-related measurements from heart rhythm to cholesterol levels and blood pressure.UK Biobank has been an extraordinary success. More than 30,000 researchers from 100 countries have been approved to use it. Over 6,000 peer-reviewed papers have been published using its research. Our Future Health won’t complete enrolment until 2028, so has a long way to go to catch up. But its strength is its scale: it is 10 times bigger than UK Biobank. In decades to come – as the data and the participants mature – it should yield powerful insights into a range of diseases and how best to prevent, diagnose and treat them.Related TopicsMedical researchHealthcareHeart …

Article Attribution | Read More at Article Source

Share This