Those living with diabetes may soon have an option besides insulin injections. Researchers believe they’ll have an artificial pancreas available within a year. The pancreas is responsible for creating insulin which turns glucose into energy. The pancreas of a diabetes patient doesn’t produce the right amount of insulin, or any at all, resulting in required insulin injections.
The artificial pancreas can monitor the patient’s glucose levels and administer the correct dosage of insulin when the body needs it. There are insulin pumps on the market that can deliver insulin but the patient must first use a glucometer. Researchers believe the artificial pancreas would become an all-in-one device with no need for that, what seems like constant, finger prick. Researchers say test patients have praised the device for giving them a break from managing their condition.
“The system is managing their blood sugar effectively without the need for constant monitoring by the user.”
“Closed-loop technologies are … destined to provide a viable alternative for existing insulin pump therapy and multiple daily insulin injections,” Dr Hovorka and Dr Thabit concluded.
The artificial pancreas works by attaching part of the device to a patients abdomen which monitors glucose levels. The data is sent to the control unit attached somewhere on the users clothing. The control unit is connected to an insulin pump which administers the correct amount of insulin to the patient.
The US Food and Drug Administration is reviewing one of the proposed artificial pancreas models, with approval possible as early as 2017. The UK equivalent authority, the National Institute of Health Research, has said the device could appear on the market by 2018.
Of course, there is still more research needing to be done on this project. Researchers found that some insulin took up to two hours to take full effect after it was injected into the system. Diabetes patients sometimes need the insulin to take full effect quickly so more testing is required on that end. For now, this system looks promising and could be very helpful to those who suffer from the disease.
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