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Artificial Pancreas ‘Safe’ for Treating Type 1 Diabetes

Artificial Pancreas ‘Safe’ for Treating Type 1 Diabetes

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  • New treatment approach can help reduce high and low blood sugar levels
  • An artificial pancreas device systems is a smartphone-sized device that helps measure blood sugar levels
  • Artificial pancreas is a safe and effective treatment approach for people with type 1 diabetes

Using artificial pancreas can help better control blood sugar levels. The device was found to be safe and effective in treating people with type 1 diabetes when compared to the standard treatment. The findings of this new study were published in The BMJ.

The results of this study show that treating type 1 diabetes patients with artificial pancreas has provided them with almost two and a half extra hours of normal blood glucose levels (normoglycaemia) in a day.


Artificial Pancreas ‘Safe’ for Treating Type 1 Diabetes

Simultaneously, the artificial pancreas has also reduced high (hyperglycemia) and low (hypoglycemia) blood glucose levels, reveal a team of researchers.

What is an Artificial Pancreas Device?

An artificial pancreas is a smartphone-sized device that helps measure blood sugar levels using a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and can treat patients with type 1 diabetes. A pump is installed in the device which gives the correct dose of insulin when needed to control the levels of blood sugar. 

An artificial pancreas device is sometimes referred to as:
  • A closed-loop system
  • An automated insulin delivery system
  • An autonomous system for glycemic control

The Artificial Pancreas Device System consists of three types of devices that can mimic the glucose-regulating function of a healthy pancreas. The three types include:
  • A continuous glucose monitoring system (CGM)
  • An insulin infusion pump
  • A glucose meter used to calibrate the CGM
The effectiveness and safety of artificial pancreas systems in those with type 1 diabetes has been investigated by Eleni Bekiari, lead researcher at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece and the team.

The research team has reviewed the results of about 41 randomized controlled trials. More than 1000 people with type 1 diabetes were involved in these trials, where the use of artificial pancreas systems was compared with other types of insulin based treatment such as insulin pump therapy.

Is it Safe to Use Artificial Pancreas?

The results showed that the artificial pancreas, when used overnight or over a 24 hour period, could almost provide two and a half extra hours in normoglycaemia than any other types of insulin based treatment.

Use of the artificial pancreas has also reduced time by two hours in hyperglycemia and 20 minutes less in hypoglycemia when compared to other types of therapy.

In this study, the research team provides a valid and up to date overview on the use of artificial pancreas systems for people with type 1 diabetes. Further analyses are required to test the strength of this device with various other devices in different settings.

However, there were also limitations in this study such as most trials were at high or unclear risk of bias, or had a small sample size and short duration. Therefore, the results should be interpreted with great caution.

Importance of Pancreas in Treating Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes affects young people, where the pancreas is not able to produce enough insulin, which leads to rise in the blood sugar levels, and requires treatment with insulin.

The pancreas, a gland located in the abdomen is an important organ of the body. The main function of pancreas is to secrete a hormone called insulin, which is used for regulating glucose absorption into cells, where cells use glucose to produce energy for growth and body function.

Need for Further Research

The research team suggested that further research is required to assess the cost-effectiveness of an artificial pancreas to support adoption of the device in clinical practice.

Also, the team suggested that it is necessary to investigate the use of artificial pancreas even in people with type 2 diabetes, and how it can improve quality of life and reduce the burden.

Professor Norman Waugh at the University of Warwick and colleagues, in a linked editorial, has argued saying, "Closed-loop systems have much to offer, but we need better evidence to convince policymakers faced with increasing demands and scarce resources."

Facts and Statistics on Diabetes

  • About 1.25 million Americans are living with type 1 diabetes
  • More than 5 million people in the U.S. are expected to have type 1 diabetes by 2050
  • The type of diabetes in India considerably differs from that in the Western world
  • India is the diabetes capital of the world
  • Over 30 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes in India
  • A major cause for the increase in the incidence of diabetes is a sedentary lifestyle
  • Exercise and diet can reduce or delay the incidence of diabetes by over 50 percent

Few Health Tips for Type 1 Diabetes

Generally, children with type 1 diabetes should take care of following points:
  • Take insulin as prescribed
  • Eat a healthy & balanced diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Check blood sugar levels several times a day
  • Keep your vaccinations up to date
  • Schedule a yearly physical exam and regular eye exams
  • Keep a glucagon kit nearby in case of a low blood sugar emergency
References :
  1. What is the pancreas? What is an artificial pancreas device system? - (https://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/HomeHealthandConsumer/ConsumerProducts/ArtificialPancreas/ucm259548.htm)
  2. Artificial Pancreas - (http://www.jdrf.org/research/artificial-pancreas/)

Source: Medindia

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