Bionic pancreas performs well in diabetes study

Managing type 1 diabetes with a bionic pancreas might be a better option for those who struggle with the hassle of daily insulin injections.

In a new study, researchers found that adults could better manage their blood sugar levels with a bionic pancreas than a standard insulin pump.

The bionic pancreas is a three-part device that's worn or carried outside the body: it includes two small hormone pumps that are inserted via thin tubes under the skin and a "brick" that combines a glucose monitor and an iPhone. The device works to continuously monitor blood sugar levels and alert the hormone pumps when the body needs insulin, which lowers blood sugar or glucagon, which raises it.

The difference between a bionic pancreas and a regular insulin pump is that the latter requires a person to manually calculate how much insulin they need - while the former does the math for you.

The study

Over 50 adults and adolescents were recruited for the study, and their blood sugar levels were monitored for five days.

Adults who used the bionic pancreas had low glucose levels about 4.1 percent of the time, compared with 7.3 percent of the time when they used the insulin pump.

Despite the challenges in integrating both the "brick" and the hormone pumps to work together (instead of having one device that could perform the job), the authors report that outcomes were encouraging.

"The use of the bihormonal bionic pancreas in our two short-term studies resulted in better glycemic control than is possible with the current standard of care," they wrote.

The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Source: USA Today

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