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Letter from the Editor

Diabetes is making the news headlines once again. Only recently, Diabetes UK reported that the number of people living with diabetes has soared by nearly 60% in the past decade. The charity disclosed that more than 3.3 million people have some form of the condition, up from 2.1 million in 2005. Shelley Bowers, EPC Industry Advisor, reveals that globally the figures are even more sobering (page 22). Although diabetes is a disease of older generations (70% of those diagnosed are in the 50-79 age group) childhood diabetes is also on the rise. As with many high profile diseases in the 21st century, much of the increase may be due to improved diagnosis, although an ageing population will also significantly contribute towards the surge. Bowers discusses recent advances in the fight against diabetes, concentrating on the application of nanotechnology in both diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of the disease, especially in developing regions.

While monitoring and diagnosis are in themselves crucial to diabetes treatment, intervention in the form of obesity management is yet to catch up with diagnosis, again, this is particularly the case in developing regions. Mohamed El Malt and Vijayanand Rajendran at Europital examine the symbiotic relationship between diabetes and obesity, before considering management strategies and clinical trials in this area (page 26).

One of the hot topics of the moment is big data. In comparison with other industries, the pharmaceutical sector has lagged behind in its utilisation of big data, as noted by Beverley Flynn at Stevens & Bolton (page 14). Flynn believes that if sufficient safeguards are met in terms of regulatory requirements and data protection, big data has the potential to transform the industry at every level. In order to fully realise its potential, both internal and external datasets will need to be integrated and analysed. In her article, Flynn reviews how big data can be utilised and how the EU Data Protection Directive impacts upon its application.

George Bernard Shaw once noted that the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. One of the consequences of the advent of big data is that it will exacerbate the problem of data communication, as huge amounts of data will make interpretation even more challenging. Barry Drees at Trilogy discusses how communication is an essential part of science through the dissemination of its results (page 42).

He observes how many people in science seem to believe that data presentation is unimportant and that data ‘speaks for itself’. A viable means to prompt better communication may well be in the insertion of a graphical abstract within scientific journals – alongside the discursive – allowing readers to quickly gain an understanding of the ‘take-home’ message of the paper. Drees believes that the adoption of well-designed infographic displays will greatly facilitate this move toward a scientific conversation. Perhaps CP Snow’s idea of two cultures will be merged by the popularisation of graphical devices to convey scientific facts and theories.

I would like to welcome my new colleague Charlie Burgon as commissioning editor for EPC and note that in this edition he has assembled an eclectic variety of articles ranging from treatment of mergers and acquisitions, bribery and corruption, comparator drugs, health technology assessment, and R&D and manufacturing infrastructure in the life sciences industries. An excellent start!

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