A Brighton University professor has urged the Home Secretary to support calls for more funding for research and trials to fight the disease.
Professor Adrian Bone said that Theresa May’s announcement that she has type 1 diabetes had brought into sharp focus the plight of 400,000 others like her in Britain.
Their condition is estimated to cost the country about £2 billion a year.
Professor Bone, a leading expert on the disease, said: “I greatly sympathise with the Home Secretary and hope she will join us in fighting this distressing and debilitating disease.
“We would very much welcome an increase in funding to research possible cures but also to tackle the serious problem of misdiagnosis among older people.
“This issue is central to the need for a major clinical trial that would not only help to more fully characterise the disease process but at the same time increase awareness and the chances of early diagnosis.”
Professor Bone, professor of cell and molecular biology, leads a Brighton University team of scientists focusing on diabetes.
They are working on research into how viral infection may play an important role in triggering the development of diabetes and into the development of a vaccine.
Professor Bone is also looking into ways to stimulate the pancreas to restart the production of insulin in diabetics.
He chaired a roundtable discussion on beta cell renewal which is regarded as a major prospect for helping type 1 patients restart their own insulin production.
The group included leading British and European type 1 diabetes researchers who said that there were too many barriers preventing more clinical trials that could alleviate the disease.
The group is supported by the leading diabetes charity JDRF which claims that people with type 1 diabetes were being denied the opportunity to join trials.
The charity also said that only 3 per cent of patients with type 1 diabetes were taking part in clinical trials.
Its report, which Professor Bone contributed to, was launched at the House of Commons last month (June).
Professor Bone said that type 1 diabetes was on the increase, particularly in children under five, making the need to support research into the condition more urgent than ever.
Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented by adopting a healthy diet or lifestyle.
Those diagnosed require insulin treatment via injections or a pump every day for the rest of their lives simply to stay alive.