Image copyright Robin Burroughs Image caption Robin Burroughs says a gel treated with a chemical similar to glucagon does not need to be taken with food to prevent diabetes
It’s hard to imagine a worse scenario for a patient with Type 1 diabetes.
Diabetes starts with tiny amounts of insulin being released from the pancreas, just enough to transport glucose to the body’s cells.
This key enzyme – known as Glucagon – also steps in to keep blood sugar from soaring into dangerous levels, as well as delivering the right amount of energy to cells, including the brain.
But if Glucagon is not working properly, or does not react as it should, or at all, it can lead to diabetes.
This usually happens in the early stages of the disease, and causes huge and unpredictable difficulties, including loss of appetite, loss of weight, exhaustion, blindness and amputation.
Image copyright Robin Burroughs Image caption Robin Burroughs has Type 1 diabetes and says the £400 gel he uses to get over diabetes attacks works
So why on earth does Robin Burroughs stay on Glucagon for life?
He has to keep a log of every Glucagon dose to make sure he avoids ever having diabetes again.
Robin is in the early stages of the condition, and when we met, he was up at 2.30am on a Thursday morning, exercising, although his body isn’t quite ready for it just yet.
Robin, who lives in Breckland, Norfolk, said he would also miss out on a lot of occasions if he stopped using Glucagon altogether.
Image copyright Robin Burroughs Image caption Robin Burroughs said he would have to choose between holidays or live with diabetes for longer
Like most of the 1.6 million people living with Type 1 diabetes in the UK, there was no medication on the market to use.
The only way to keep up the fight against the condition is using a variety of drugs, or taking Glucagon.
Robin’s situation is exceptional though.
Glucagon was around 2,000 years old when scientists discovered it might work. It was only in the last century that it was re-discovered, and in 2004 it was approved for use as a diabetes treatment.
Glucagon has been around since the 11th century, and Robin’s case is the first time it has been shown to work without food being the only way to get it.
That means that people who also have type 2 diabetes, where they use insulin to keep glucose in the blood levels under control, will need no special treatment.
In Robin’s case, if he stops taking Glucagon, it sometimes results in swelling in his hands, feet, stomach and mouth, and can result in him requiring hospital treatment.
There are now clinical trials of Glucagon in around a dozen countries, including parts of the UK, and it’s hoped that within the next few years it will be available to more people.
But like everybody else, Robin has to keep a detailed log of every Glucagon dose – plus every other diabetes drug he takes.
And that takes all of his free time.
He also has to make an appointment with a specialist once a year.
So could a device that delivered Glucagon like his Glucagon-like Glucagon – which contains a chemical similar to Glucagon – make living with Type 1 diabetes easier?
Robin thinks it could.
Image copyright Robin Burroughs Image caption Robin Burroughs feels the effects of the drug work better on a small scale than Glucagon in its original form, and this means it can be used more freely
“With Glucagon, it seems to work better on a small scale than in its original form,” he said.
“I know how to go about taking it normally. But with the brand-new new Glucagon, it’s the only product that I have any control over.
“The new glucagon is quite different from the old one.
“Because it has the Glucagon made at the same time, as well as glucagon, it seemed to me to work in the same way as Glucagon, but it didn’t.”
For all its promise in the future, Glucagon – along with all drugs for diabetes – carries side effects and Robin says he has to weigh the trade-off.
“If my insulin levels are normal,” he said, “I can take any drug I want, any time. But if I take Glucagon it causes a reaction.
“I don’t have the information, that something is wrong with me if I take it at a certain time and it isn’t working and