A leading diabetes expert has called on the Home Secretary to lend her support to calls for more funding for research and trials to fight the condition.

Professor Adrian Bone said Theresa May’s announcement she has type 1 diabetes had brought into focus the plight of 400,000 others like her in Britain.

Prof Bone leads a University of Brighton team of scientists working on research into how viral infection may play an important role in triggering the development of diabetes.

His studies are also looking into ways to stimulate the pancreas to re-start the production of insulin in diabetics.

Prof Bone 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.”

Prof Bone says type 1 diabetes is on the increase, particularly in children unde 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, and those diagnosed require insulin treatment via injections or a pump every day to stay alive.