How Scotland is helping the world manage diabetes

Scotland is a world leader in helping diabetics manage their condition. We have companies involved in every area of diabetes management. From Lifescan in Inverness, to Dexcom in Edinburgh, companies in Scotland are continually pushing the boundaries of what is possible.

What is diabetes?

Around 400,000 people in the UK have type 1 diabetes. Which means their pancreas doesn’t deliver insulin and they need to regulate their blood-sugar levels with insulin injections or with an insulin pump.

How Scotland is helping

Scotland continues to be the UK’s most attractive location for foreign direct investment outside London. From traditional industries to the latest in digital and tech, Scotland’s people have the skills you need.

We have some of the finest universities in the world and the research they’re carrying out in life sciences and medical technology sets us apart as global leaders. Scotland has a great track record of turning research findings into businesses. So much so that more companies are formed based on university research here than in any part of the UK.

Innovation across Scotland

Inverness Medical launched in 1995 to design and manufacture glucose test strips and design electronic meters. In 2001, Johnson & Johnson saw their potential and acquired the company, forming Lifescan.

In 2012, an investment deal to make Lifescan’s Inverness base their world centre for R&D included £2.8m from Highlands and Islands Enterprise. At the time, Lifescan said: “It will allow us to get innovation to the marketplace sooner and also contribute further to the prosperity of the Highlands.”

Since then they’ve continued to invest in research and have developed a number of new products to help diabetics manage their condition.

In 2018, Platinum Equity acquired Lifescan from Johnson & Johnson for 2.1 billion USD (£1.6 billion).

Where the world comes to innovate

Another major player in diabetes management is Dexcom. Founded in 1999, they’ve become a leader in continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) technology.

In 2016 Dexcom decided that Edinburgh was the ideal place to base its EMEA HQ. They saw it gave them the perfect platform to build their continuous glucose monitoring business.

John Lister, general manager EMEA at Dexcom said: “With its strong history of medical innovation, the incredible talent pool in the city, and the strategic inward investment through Scottish Enterprise, Edinburgh really stood out to us as a location.”

422 million reasons to find a cure

There are a number of unique research trials being carried out in Scotland. Each of these will contribute to the world’s understanding of the condition and seeks to provide new ways of managing it.

It is estimated that there are now 422 million people worldwide living with type 1 diabetes. The ultimate aim of companies working in diabetes is to develop a ‘cure’.

Until then, there are opportunities to develop and refine products to help diabetics live as full and normal a life as possible.

Leading the way in diabetes research

Some of the world’s most important research into diabetes is being carried out in Scotland. These projects include a number that are looking at new ways to manage and control blood glucose levels.

Exploring blood glucose control in type 1 diabetes

How blood glucose control in type 1 diabetes changes over time in different groups of people. This project aims to find ways to improve how people with type 1 diabetes manage their blood glucose levels.

Learn more about diabetes control on diabetes.org

Exercise regime to bring back hypo awareness

Over time, some people with type 1 diabetes lose the ability to tell when their blood glucose levels are going too low. This study looks at whether short bursts of high-intensity exercise can help improve awareness of very low blood glucose levels.

See how exercise helps diabetic control at diabetes.org

Research tackling diabetes in Scotland and India

Scotland and India are working on a huge £7 million project led by genomics specialist, Professor Colin Palmer at the University of Dundee. The collaboration is using the Scottish SHARE database to study genetic susceptibility of diabetes in India. It underlines Scotland’s expertise in this area and our ability to work with other nations in combatting this disease.

The project aims to compare the problems both countries face in combating type 2 diabetes and improving the care that people with diabetes receive, reducing health inequalities in India and Scotland.

Read more about this collaboration on diabetes.org

The research to date as helped identify distinct forms of type 2 diabetes in South Asians, a development with important implications for prognosis and management of the disease.

Read more on the findings on the University of Dundee website

Data-driven solutions for at-home care

The development of 'My Diabetes My Way' as part of the 'My Way' platform also highlights Scotland’s ability to in using data-driven technologies to offer diabetes patients additional means to control the disease, access treatment and advice while maintaining independence.

More on MyWay Digital Health website

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