Have type 1 diabetes? Ditch your insulin pump for an artificial pancreas

Having type 1 diabetes means constant monitoring of glucose levels.

Patients are required to frequently check their insulin-monitoring device sensors and adjust their dosages manually. But in the not-so-distant future, an artificial pancreas could do all of the work for you.

IRCM researchers conducted a study that compared the results of a dual-hormone, external, artificial pancreas with a conventional insulin pump--and the pancreas beat out the pump in terms of improved glucose levels and lower hypoglycemia risks.

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Is that a pancreas on your belt?

The artificial pancreas is a device worn on the belt that injects insulin directly into a patient's abdomen, continuously adapting the delivery dosage based on feedback from current glucose levels that is guided by a complex algorithm.

"We found that the artificial pancreas improved glucose control by 15 percent and significantly reduced the risk of hypoglycemia as compared with conventional insulin pump therapy," said Ahmad Haidar, lead author of the study.

Haidar notes that the pancreas adjusts insulin dosage in the same way a GPS system can recalculate directions when there is a route change or traffic.

The future of diabetes treatment?

The researchers say the fake pancreas mimics a normal pancreas because it secrets insulin and glucagon--while insulin helps lower blood sugar levels, glucagon can raise them should the patient be in danger of hypoglycemia.

About two-thirds of diabetes patients can't maintain target blood glucose levels with their current devices, the authors note, and the artificial pancreas could be a simple solution.

"Our work is exciting because the artificial pancreas has the potential to substantially improve the management of diabetes and reduce daily frustrations for patients," said Dr. Rabasa-Lhoret.

The researchers are currently conducting clinical trials to test the device on different age groups.

Source: Science Daily

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