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UK’s largest health research programme launched

A major new research programme to develop new ways to ‘prevent, detect and treat’ diseases has been launched in the UK, with three million invitations to members of the public being sent out this autumn.

Eventually, up to five million people will have the opportunity to join Our Future Health over the next few years, the organisation outlined in a statement, making it the UK’s largest-ever health research programme open to all UK adults.

The researchers hope that, by analysing health data and blood samples from the millions of volunteers who join the programme, they could develop new ways to detect illnesses earlier – when they can be treated more easily – and more accurately predict who is at higher risk of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, dementia and stroke.

Volunteers will also include people who have previously been under-represented in research, such as those from Black, Asian, and other ethnic backgrounds and people with lower incomes.

Participants joining the research programme will be given the option in the future to receive feedback about their health, including their risk of common diseases, based on their health data and analysis of their DNA. They will also be offered the results of blood pressure and cholesterol measurements.

Working in collaboration with NHS DigiTrials, the programme will send invites to adults aged 18 years and over to residents of West Yorkshire, West Midlands, Greater Manchester and Greater London. However, the team said anyone could sign up to participate.

Volunteers will give their consent to join the research programme and provide secure access to their health records, complete a questionnaire and book an appointment to provide a small blood sample and have physical measurements taken.