A researcher has developed an artificial pancreas that she says could revolutionise the treatment of diabetes.
The device, developed by Professor Joan Taylor, from De Montfort University, Leicester, could put an end to daily injections diabetics have to endure to regulate glucose levels.
Glucose levels are normally controlled by the hormone insulin, released by the pancreas when required.
People who have diabetes either do not produce insulin, do not produce enough insulin or the insulin they do produce does not work properly.
The new artificial pancreas, invented and patented by Prof Taylor, is made of a metal casing containing a supply of insulin kept in place by a gel barrier.
When the body's glucose levels rise, the gel barrier starts to liquefy and lets insulin out.
The insulin feeds into the veins around the gut then into the vein to the liver, mimicking the normal process for a person with a healthy pancreas.
As the insulin lowers the glucose level, the gel reacts by hardening again and stopping the supply.
Prof Taylor said this means the right amount of insulin would be released automatically when the body needed it.
The artificial pancreas, which is undergoing pre-clinical trials, would be implanted between the lowest rib and the hip and topped up with insulin every few weeks.
Prof Taylor said: "I realised that I could use a certain protein to make a gel that would react with glucose. When exposed to the body fluid around the internal organs, the gel reacts according to the amount of glucose present.
"High levels cause the gel to soften and release insulin into the blood stream, once the glucose levels return to normal the nature of the gel causes it to re-solidify, perfectly controlling the insulin dose."
She hopes to move on to clinical trials within the next few years and if trials prove successful the device could be available in five to 10 years.