A treatment that could mean the end of daily insulin injections for diabetics is about to undergo trials in the UK.
The treatment was developed in Canada by British-born surgeon James Shapiro and involves the transplantation of insulin-producing cell clusters into the livers of diabetics, so that they can create insulin themselves (
The charity Diabetes UK is funding seven centres at British hospitals to test the technique, at a cost of £300,000. Ten patients will receive the cell transplants and, if successful, the project will be expanded to treat up to 400 diabetics a year.
To prevent the cell transplant from being rejected these patients will be treated with a cocktail of drugs and, as the potential dangers of long-term immunosuppression are unknown, the treatment will only be considered suitable for patients with type-1 diabetes.
Moira Murphy, Director of research at Diabetes UK, said: "It's early days yet, but this may well lead to a cure for diabetes. If this research proves successful, it could revolutionise the lives of people who currently need to take insulin injections to stay alive".