New “Bionic Pancreas: Bid farewell to insulin injections, monitoring and diets
A team of researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital, successfully developed a new Artificial Pancreas model that promises to radically change the treatment of Type 1 Diabetes, allowing them to eat whatever they want without having to count carbs, monitor their glucose levels, or having to inject insulin, while avoiding the need to calculate their dose or adapt it based on their blood sugar results. This bionic pancreas, also demonstrated a significant improvement in glucose levels control while reducing the risks of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.
By Joe Cardozo
A group of researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston University led by Dr. Steven Russell, successfully developed a bionic pancreas, which consists of an automated pump that delivers the required amount of insulin and glucagon hormones, based on the requirements directed by the continuous monitoring system included in this device which is controlled by an iPhone application.
This new device includes a computer program or software that automatically manages and makes dosage decisions on both the insulin and glucagon the patient requires, based on glycemia results, offering a continuous monitoring system that is incorporated into this fabulous Bionic Pancreas. Thus, when glucose levels begin to rise, the device will provide the required insulin amount to maintain these levels within the normal range, and on the contrary, if glucose levels begin to fall, the device will release enough glucagon to avoid hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.
What were this study’s results?
In this study, which was presented one week ago at the annual scientific meeting of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and published in the scientific journal New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that 52 adults and young people who used the bionic Pancreas, had much healthier glucose levels in comparison to those who got the usual treatments, including carbohydrate counting, frequent monitoring of their blood glucose levels and calculating the insulin dose they needed several times a day through injections or by an insulin pump.
All of this study’s participants were rigorously observed. All of the adults were accompanied by nurses at all times and the younger people participated in a holiday camp at the Joslin Diabetes Center, to make sure their blood sugar levels didn’t or fall too suddenly causing hypoglycemia.
“We asked all of them to eat whatever they wanted while they were using the Bionic Pancreas” said Dr. Russell, adding “They participated in a Diabetes holiday camp where they had a great experience because they could eat ice cream, candy and everything they wanted without any problems.”
Less worries, better control and less hypoglycemia
The adults and adolescents who used this device significant reduced their hypoglycemia or low blood sugar episodes and when they did have them, they were much milder and required 67% less of a carbohydrate intake and less time to reverse it.
“This Bionic Pancreas leads Diabetes treatment and management to its upmost effectiveness, comfort and safety, and frees people with Type 1 Diabetes from having to think about what they need to do every day to adequately control their blood sugar levels” said Dr. Edward Damiano, professor of engineering at Boston University, co-author of the study and creator of the software, adding “I have a 5 year old son who was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when he was 1, and since then I have to get up 2 to 3 times every night to check his blood sugar to make sure it doesn’t drop too much as this would pose a very dangerous situation.”
Having an automatic device such as this one would release Dr. Damiano as well as millions of parents and people with Type 1 Diabetes, from having to get up in the middle of the night to check their blood glucose levels in the fear that an emergency will arise. This represents a huge additional advantage provided by the Bionic Pancreas, taking into account that hypoglycemia or low sugar leads to 8 times more cases of death in children, at night, in comparison to traffic accidents.
“Initial tests of this concept are very good,” said Dr. William Arreaza-Rubin, director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the United States (NIDDKD), which fully financed the Bionic Pancreas project, and added “this novel device can free millions of children, adolescents and adults with Type 1 Diabetes from all the fears and discomforts, and significantly improve their quality of life.”
At Diabetes Up to Date we celebrate the fact that this fabulous device will soon be on the market
At Diabetes Up to Date we are pleased that new and increasingly sophisticated Artificial Pancreas models are successfully being developed. In this case, known as the Bionic Pancreas due to the additional advantages it offers, and even though more studies and updates are required, its creators estimate that it’ll be available on the market in 2017, offering millions of people with Type 1 Diabetes a valuable, easy, safe and convenient treatment tool that will allow them to enjoy a healthier, more productive and happier life.
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