Sitting in a diving chamber may be a new treatment for type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the condition.
Scientists are combining the treatment with injections of a patient’s own stem cells in a bid to kick-start insulin production.
They believe the high levels of oxygen in the chamber boosts the activity of the stem cells, helping them to repair the cells in the body that produce insulin.
In a new trial, patients with type 2 diabetes reduced their need for insulin and metformin (a common diabetes drug) with some no longer needing the insulin at all.
So-called hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves a patient sitting in a pressurised chamber.
The high-pressure atmosphere means they breathe in three times as much oxygen as they would normally.
The treatment is normally used for helping divers who have surfaced too quickly and have the ‘bends’ (where bubbles of nitrogen form in the blood).
It’s also used for carbon monoxide poisoning and to speed up wound healing such as leg ulcers.