HC Deb 04 November 2003 vol 412 cc540-1W
Mr. Kidney

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what funding the Government have contributed to the World Health Organisation's research into deep vein thrombosis; and what progress has been made in the research. [135477]

Mr. McNulty

To date, the Government have contributed approximately £400,000 to the WHO research project. We expect our total contribution to be in excess of £1.1 million. Epidemiological studies are being carried out in the Netherlands: two at the Leiden University Medical Centre and one at the Amsterdam Medical Centre. Clinical and physiopathological studies are being carried out in the UK.

At the Leiden centre, work is well advanced on the cohort study among business travellers, following a successful pilot study of the employees of an international company in Switzerland. The proposed methodology for the case-control study among frequent travellers was also piloted. However, for technical reasons an alternative methodology has been proposed, which I understand the Scientific Executive Committee responsible for the research protocols has approved in principle. At the Amsterdam centre, following extensive planning and preparation, the first test of the travel and non-travel immobility study will start shortly. This will comprise an eight-hour flight before, during and after which blood samples from volunteer passengers will be drawn for examination. Further tests will be carried out on the same volunteers to assess their clinical response to eight hours immobility, without travel, and eight hours engaged in normal activities.

The other stream of the research, examining the effects of hypobaria and hypoxia on the risk of deep vein thrombosis, is already under way under the auspices of Leicester University. Hypobaric chamber tests are being carried out at the aviation medical facilities at RA F Henlow to examine the effects of reduced atmospheric pressure on the cardio-vascular systems of volunteers seated for eight hours.

The World Health Organisation is due to publish the results of the research at the end of 2004 or early 2005.