Since current methods of injecting insulin are uncomfortable and require users to be constantly keeping track of their blood and sugar levels, and being aware of the amount of insulin they are taking, an experimental artificial pancreas was developed to fulfill these tasks.
The artificial pancreas goes implanted in the user and is paired with a smartphone to monitor blood sugar and it automatically delivers insulin whenever necessary. This idea could benefit the elderly or young children who may not be able to keep track of their blood and sugar leveles, but it may work better for teens with type 1 diabetes who are the most affected and need to take insulin injections every day to keep their glucose levels normal.
Type 1 diabetes results from the immune system destroying pancreatic cells which are responsible for insulin production. Recent advances in treating diabetes have focused their studies on allowing patients to be able to measure their glucose levels more quickly and with less pain, therefore, the idea of the artificial pancreas was born.
The artificial pancreas was tested within a group of 12 teens who suffered diabetes. They used the device every day and every time for about a week and then the results were compared to another week when they used separate devices to monitor glucose and pump insulin. based on how well it worked.
With the artificial pancreas, the teens had significantly lower average blood sugar levels of 8.7 mmol/liter (about 157 mg/deciliter), compared to 10.1 mmol/L (182 mg/dl) with the separate devices. Diabetes is diagnosed when fasting blood sugar is 126 mg/dl or higher. For this experiment, the safe target range was 3.9 mmol/L (70 mg/dl) to 10 mmol/L (180 mg/dl).
Results showed that when teens used the artificial pancreas, 72% of the time, glucose levels were within a safe range, which is better compared to a 53% when they had to measure it by themselves. Time spent with dangerously low blood sugar was minimal and almost the same with both systems.
“The present study adds knowledge about performance in teenagers who are particularly vulnerable to poor glucose control,” said lead author Dr. Roman Hovorka, director of research at the University of Cambridge Metabolic Research Laboratories in the U.K. “Home testing in very young children and elderly will follow. The application of the artificial pancreas is not limited by age but by the ability to use the insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor.”
Source: Business Insider