Researchers from Cardiff University’s Institute of Infection and Immunity have discovered bacteria that could cause diabetes.

The research, published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, could potentially lead to an advanced form of screening for the public, which if introduced, could lower the risk of developing non-genetic type 1 diabetes.

The Cardiff University study involved powerful X-rays which photographed infected blood samples. The experiment revealed that T-cells, a form of white blood cell known to cause diabetes, can be triggered by bacteria. Once activated, the T-cells attack beta cells – the mechanism responsible for producing insulin.

The study’s lead scientist, Dr David Cole, claims that uncovering how white blood cells detect bacteria is a significant step in working towards a cure for the disease.

Diabetes requires close medical management and if left untreated can lead to serious health complications including amputation, stroke, blindness or heart disease. According to leading charity, Diabetes UK there are 135 diabetes related amputations every week in England.

Corrina Mottram, a clinical negligence and serious injury solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “While the findings of this study are not definitive, the results suggest that screening for bacteria that causes diabetes, could one day be achieved.

“Diabetes is estimated to cost the NHS nearly £10bn a year and incredible disruption to sufferers’ lives. Any scientific development that could lead to fewer sufferers is welcome news. However, this research is likely to take years and in the meantime the UK government must ensure the NHS is sufficiently resourced to provide essential diabetes care if we are to prevent avoidable diabetes complications amongst patients.”