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Case study: Greater Manchester MP takes part in major study to improve health of South Asian people

Greater Manchester Pakistani MP encourages South Asian constituents to be part of research.

Greater Manchester MP Afzal Khan has taken part in a major study helping researchers to understand why people of South Asian heritage are more likely to suffer from common long-term illnesses. 

South Asian men and women aged 18 to 85 are being encouraged to take part in the South Asia Biobank Study which has now opened in Greater Manchester. 

The study is being supported by Clinical Research Network (CRN) Greater Manchester, part of the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR). 

Mr Khan, MP for Manchester Gorton, is encouraging local residents to also get involved. All participants will receive a comprehensive report of their personal health and will contribute to a project aiming to improve health outcomes for South Asian people worldwide. 

To date, there has been limited, large-scale research into why South Asians are more susceptible than other populations to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other long-term health conditions. 

For example, South Asians are three times more at risk of diabetes than people of European heritage. A key aspect of the study is to understand why this is the case, and to gather mass data which can find trends that could lead to breakthroughs in treatments.

The South Asia Biobank Study, led by Imperial College London and funded by the Wellcome Trust, will recruit 200,000 participants of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan heritage living in South Asia and the UK. People do not need to have any health issues to get involved. 

More than 170 Manchester residents have already taken part at the local study clinic in Cheetham Hill, which Mr Khan visited to meet the team and participate in the research. 

Mr Khan, the Member of Parliament for the Manchester Gorton constituency, said:

“It was a pleasure to go along to the South Asia Biobank’s Manchester clinic and be part of this important project. By getting involved, people here in Manchester can help researchers understand why South Asian people in our local communities and across the world are more at risk of heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses which we know are very prevalent in our demographic. 

“I was at the clinic for about an hour while the research nurses carried out a range of standard health checks and helped me fill in a questionnaire. Not only will my involvement help the research, I will also get a full, personalised health report. I encourage all South Asian people to take a look and consider being part of this research.”

Louise Woodhead, Team Lead Research Nurse at NIHR Clinical Research Network Greater Manchester, said: 

“Greater Manchester is renowned for its rich and diverse communities and so we are very proud to be offering our local South Asian residents the opportunity to be part of this huge study. By taking part, Greater Manchester residents are contributing to something which has the potential to help people worldwide. 

“On an individual basis, what’s great about this particular study is that everyone who takes part gets their own unique health ‘MOT’ report. The simple health checks, which look at a person’s blood, heart, weight and other key indicators, can identify problems someone might not be aware of and help them make lifestyle changes before things get any worse.”

Professor Jaspal Kooner, Chief Investigator of the South Asia Biobank study, Imperial College London, said: 

“As the study lead, I am excited to be able to offer health assessments to South Asians in the Manchester area who are able to come to the Cheetham Hill site. The participants will receive a free health report which will let them know if there are areas where they can improve their health. At the same time, their data, when brought together in research, could go a long way to identify what lies behind the high risk of heart disease and diabetes in the South Asian population. Everybody gains from taking part in both the short and the long-term.”

How to take part

For more information, including about how to book your appointment with Manchester’s South Asia Biobank study clinic in Cheetham Hill, please sign up to the NIHR’s Research for the Future registry.