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New deal for diabetics

  • GCSE
  • Popular Activity
  • Topical

Type: Activity
Learning Strategy: Case study
Topic: Hormones

Daily insulin jabs could soon be a thing of the past for diabetics. The first British patient has been cured by a cell transplant. But is this treatment right for everyone? In this 20 minute+ activity students find out what's involved and highlight the drawbacks.

Published: 15th March 2005
Reviews & Comments: 4

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Learning objectives

Students will use the terms cell, tissue and organ correctly, be aware of the importance of respiration and know that blood glucose levels have to be kept steady.

Try the activity

You will need Acrobat Reader installed to open the activity sheets.

Homeostasis - pros and cons of cell transplants as a cure for diabetes.

11 – 14(KS3)
Cells QCA 7A
• Describe how cells are grouped to form tissues.
• Describe how some cells are specialised to carry out particular functions.

GCSE specifications
AQA Additional Science
Unit B2, Biology: 11.7 How do our bodies keep internal conditions constant?
• The blood glucose concentration of the body is monitored and controlled by the pancreas.
• Diabetes is a disease in which a person's blood glucose concentration may rise to a fatally high level because the pancreas does not produce enough of the hormone insulin.
• Students should evaluate modern methods of treating diabetes.
Edexcel Core Science
Unit B1 b, Topic 3: Electrical and Chemical Signals
• Explain how hormones act as chemical messages affecting target organs and/or cells.
• Explain how insulin produced by the pancreas regulates glucose concentrations in the blood.
Gateway Core Science
Module B1, Understanding ourselves: Item B1f Staying in Balance
• Apply knowledge that insulin controls blood sugar levels and that a lack of insulin causes diabetes.

Running the activity

The activity is suitable for able students in years 7 and 8 or as an introduction to homeostasis at KS4. Page 1 introduces diabetes and its treatment. Students select and sort relevant 'transplant data' from page 2 and use it to complete a leaflet to explain what's involved in islet tissue transplantation. The term diabetes is used in this activity to mean type 1 diabetes, which is the type that most children suffer from. It is caused by the destruction of cells in the pancreas that normally produce insulin and can be managed by injecting insulin 2-4 times per day. The consequences of not controlling insulin levels can be serious in later life. The heart, kidney, eyes and nerves can all be damaged.

News links

An article describing the new transplant treatment.
New Scientist
Details of the first live pancreas donation where a mother donated part of her pancreas to a diabetic daughter. The pros and cons of this option are discussed.
Details of plans to transplant insulin-producing cells from pigs to cure diabetes.
A very clear description of insulin's role with a full screen animation and graphs to show how the blood's glucose level fluctuates.
Another detailed description of blood sugar control.
Diabetes UK
An excellent site with lots of links for those who want to find out more about managing diabetes.

Reviews & Comments

Write your online review to share your feedback and classroom tips with other teachers. How well does it work, how engaging is it, how did you use it, and how could it be improved?

New deal for diabetics review

Feb 4th, 2010

5 Star


Got them to write a script of role play between doctor and mother explain the advantages and disadvantages. They did spend an equal time deciding on their doctor name e.g. dr.acula...but they learnt something so can't be bad

Reviewer: R Elliott


Apr 25th, 2008

4 Star

Gives basics of diabetes froma new angle. Good homework activity which makes pupils assess risks involved in surgery compared to risks of living with diabetes. Could have a bit more information on long term effects of living with diabetes or poorly managed glucose levels.
Pupils like the illustrations and the grusome details!

Reviewer: Ruth Northeast

Great activities

Oct 3rd, 2007

5 Star

Once again UPD8 has come up trumps. The new GCSE courses need these type of resources and teachers do not have time to re-invent the wheel - again.
Well done - excellent standard of activities that engage young people in the classroom - halfway there to a good GCSE grade when interested and motivated!

Reviewer: Anne Francis

new deal for diabetics

Jun 20th, 2006

4 Star

i have just finished covering homeostasis as part of the new yr 10 syllabus and this was a great way to get the class to look at the treatment/cure of diabetes and by using the web link to the new scientist we were able to develop their opinions further - thank you a timely resource!

Reviewer: debra johnson