The British Diabetic Association said more scientists than ever are applying for grants from its pounds 4.5m research fund.
But the charity said that although some schemes could lead to a cure for the condition, increasing numbers of worthwhile projects had to be turned down.
Professor Stephen Bloom, chairman of the charity's research committee, said: "Talk of prevention or a cure for diabetes is not a pipe dream. It could happen in our lifetimes with a continuing investment in diabetes research."
In order to increase the money available the charity will launch an appeal at the start of National Diabetes Week tomorrow.Reuse content