A vaccine which allows people to live longer before developing Type 1 diabetes could be available within the next 20 years, according to a charity.
Patients who are treated early with a vaccine could make their condition easier to manage and prevent 20 years being cut from their life expectancy, Diabetes UK said.
Dr Alasdair Rankin, director of research, said he was hopeful that a vaccine to stop Type 1 diabetes developing could be found.
Dr Rankin said: "It has the potential to be one of the really big medical breakthroughs in the first half of the 21st century.
"We tend to think of Type 1 diabetes as unavoidable, but there is a huge sense of excitement in the research community that the work being done today is building towards a future where Type 1 diabetes can be stopped in its tracks.
"This is not, of course, going to happen overnight. It is likely that the first vaccines we see will allow people to live longer before they develop Type 1 diabetes, rather than preventing it entirely.
"But we know that if people who do develop Type 1 diabetes are treated early with a vaccine then it could provide some benefits that make their condition easier to manage and improve their health in the long term."
Type 1 diabetes, which accounts for between 5% and 15% of all diabetes, develops when the insulin-producing cells in the body have been destroyed and the body is unable to produce any insulin.
The condition affects 300,000 people in the UK and is treated by daily insulin injections, a healthy diet and regular physical activity.
Although insulin was first successfully used to treat Type 1 diabetes 91 years ago, no vaccine has so far been produced.