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Continual glucose monitor (left), pump worn on the belt that injects insulin under the patient’s skin (right), and a controller (a handheld smart phone)  (Source: Institut de recherches cliniques de Montreal)
Type 1 diabetics are expected to benefit from the new dual-hormone treatment

Being a type 1 diabetic is a full-time job, but a system that acts as an artificial pancreas could offer a bit of relief for those struggling to keep their glucose regulated.

An IRCM research team, led by Dr. Rémi Rabasa-Lhoret, have performed the first trial that compares an artifical pancreas system to a traditional diabetes treatment, and found that the artificial pancreas resulted in better glucose control.

The artificial pancreas is a dual-hormone system that delivers insulin and glucagon automatically through the use of a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and advanced algorithm.

The algorithm obtains data from the CGM, and it calculates the amount of insulin required. It will also calculate the required glucagon, if needed. Insulin lowers blood sugar while glucagon raises it, preventing the diabetic from experiencing hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is the result of blood sugar dropping too low, and can result in confusion and even loss of consciousness.

Once the insulin and glucagon is calculated, the CGM sends it to the wireless pump, and it automatically administers the proper dose of the hormones.

While pumps are available to diabetics today, the sensors must be checked frequently and the pump's dosage must be adjusted. This new system does everything without any interference from the person wearing it.

"Approximately two-thirds of patients don't achieve their target range with current treatments," said Dr. Rabasa-Lhoret. "The artificial pancreas could help them reach these targets and reduce the risk of hypoglycemia, which is feared by most patients and remains the most common adverse effect of insulin therapy. In fact, nocturnal hypoglycemia is the main barrier to reaching glycemic targets."

In the study, 15 type 1 diabetic adults that used insulin pumps for at least three months prior to the study were sent to IRCM's facility for two, 15-hour visits. During the visits, their glucose levels were monitored as they exercised on a stationary bike. They were also given an evening meal and a snack, and were sent to bed.

It turns out that the addition of glucagon and the algorithm for calculated release helped participants avoid hypoglycemia during the night. In fact, those with the dual-hormone treatment had 15 percent better glucose control than those with conventional pump treatment.

In addition, the artificial pancreas had an 8-fold reduction in the risk of hypoglycemia, and a 20-fold reduction in the risk of hypoglycemia during the night.

Source: Science Daily



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Awesome!
By scbundy on 1/31/2013 12:53:50 AM , Rating: 5
My son is a type 1 diabetic, he's 7 years old and been on a pump for about a year. The pump was a huge improvement over injections, both in keeping his levels tighter and having a more normal lifestyle. Have you ever tried telling a 5 year old that he can't have a piece of cake at a birthday party and instead has to have a carb free piece you made at home the night before? It'll break your heart.

However this sounds fantastic, once it's been perfected. The pump is already great, but it's a lot of effort. We're constantly poking his fingers and checking his levels and making adjustments. Waking up at 3am b/c we didn't like the number we saw a few hours earlier.

I can only hope that when my son is my age, he can go out with his friends for pizza and wings, have a drink and watch the hockey game and not have to sneak away every 30 minutes to the bathroom to poke his finger and get a reading.




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