Fifers are being asked to sign up to the Scottish Spare Blood Project to boost research into conditions like heart disease, diabetes and cancer and support the development of new treatments.
At the launch of the Genetics of Scotland Research Register (GoSHARE) in the Townhouse, Kirkcaldy on Tuesday, it was revealed that each day 50,000 blood samples are tested by laboratories in Scotland.
And often when a sample is sent away for routine clinical testing, a small amount is often left over and discarded.
This blood can be a valuable research resource and this is why locals are being asked for their permission to allow it to be used in genetic research.
The samples gathered will then be involved in the study of genes in disease to improve future treatments.
As part of the GoSHARE initiative, blood samples gathered will be analysed with the genetic data collected and stored in secure databases. But any medical information or samples used in research will have all personal information removed so no individuals can be identified.
Dr Alex Baldacchino, NHS Fife director for research and development, said: “The key to success in research is to be able to study as many people as possible.
“By registering with GoSHARE, participants are simply giving us permission to use any of the blood left over for testing. No more blood will be taken than is usual for standard clinical tests and no extra samples will be required.
“The use of spare blood is unique and is made possible only by the investment in the latest automated systems in NHS Fife and NHS Tayside, along with the close collaboration between the University of Dundee and NHS Fife.”
He added: “The registration process takes a matter of minutes to complete and all the information collected during the course of the research is kept strictly confidential.”
Jim Leishman, Provost of Fife, hosted a civic reception at the launch, and revealed he has type 2 diabetes.
For this reason, he welcomed a scheme which would boost research into conditions like diabetes.
He said: “I’m delighted to be part of the launch of this new initiative which will help aid research into some of Scotland’s worst diseases.
“This is a great idea where people are able to help vital research with very little effort on their part.
All we are asking is for permission to use any spare blood.”
He added: “It only takes a few minutes to register, but has the potential to save millions of lives in the future.”
GoSHARE aims to have one quarter of the adult population registered in the next five years.
For more information on the initiative visit www.registerforshare.org