'Artificial pancreas' for diabetes is testing well

June 28, 2010 By Mary Brophy Marcus

Scientists are getting closer to offering an "artificial pancreas" to children and adults with type 1 diabetes that will help better control the swings of blood glucose that come with the disease.

Researchers working on artificial technology announced at this weekend's 70th Scientific Sessions of the American Association that the latest tests of the technology show it can be used in real-life scenarios with success, including after eating a large meal and drinking a glass of white wine.

"The rubber is finally starting to hit the road. We're seeing more and more studies telling us it can be done and it can be done safely," says Aaron Kowalski, research director of the Project for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Kowalski says they believe the technology could be available within the next few years.

Artificial pancreas technology has three components:

• A continuous glucose monitor, attached by a slender wire to the body, that measures levels and the direction they are trending through the day, as opposed to pricking the finger and using test strips to get a single, snapshot blood sugar reading.

• An insulin pump, also attached to the body, that doses insulin continuously at a low level and can be adjusted.

• A sophisticated computer program that can help the two devices "talk" to each other and automate the process.

The first two technologies are already available. Researchers with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation have been testing the multi-component system in a range of in-clinic situations.

Earlier this year, in a study in The Lancet, they showed that the artificial pancreas technology could better control blood glucose levels during sleep and reduce the chance of hypoglycemia, or dangerously low blood sugar, in children with type 1.

In this weekend's presentation, researchers reported that the benefits remained when the system was tested in 12 adults, ages 18 to 65, who ate a large meal and drank a glass of white wine before bedtime.

"It was quite a large meal -- a meal like you'd eat out at a restaurant with a glass of wine. It included over 100 grams of carbohydrates," says lead researcher Roman Hovorka, principal research associate at the University of Cambridge Metabolic Research Laboratories.

In the study, 70 percent of the time, participants were within their target blood glucose range, up from 47 percent when they didn't use the technology.

Even with this technology, you're still working backward, says endocrinologist Robert Rizza, executive dean of research at the Mayo Clinic. "It takes time for that insulin to be absorbed. Despite that fact, it's been working very well and helps avoid very high and very low blood sugars."
___

BEST CANDIDATES FOR ARTIFICIAL PANCREAS

New research by Joslin Diabetes Center scientists looked at which patients are most likely to benefit from using an artificial pancreas:

• Those who engage problem-solving skills to cope with frustration.

• Those who see continuous glucose monitors as a way to better understand glucose patterns.

• Those who have good support from spouses and significant others.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Researchers illustrate how muscle growth inhibitor is activated, could aid in treating ALS

January 19, 2018
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine are part of an international team that has identified how the inactive or latent form of GDF8, a signaling protein also known as myostatin responsible for ...

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

January 18, 2018
T cells play a key role in the body's immune response against pathogens. As a new class of therapeutic approaches, T cells are being harnessed to fight cancer, promising more precise, longer-lasting mitigation than traditional, ...

Weight flux alters molecular profile, study finds

January 17, 2018
The human body undergoes dramatic changes during even short periods of weight gain and loss, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Secrets of longevity protein revealed in new study

January 17, 2018
Named after the Greek goddess who spun the thread of life, Klotho proteins play an important role in the regulation of longevity and metabolism. In a recent Yale-led study, researchers revealed the three-dimensional structure ...

The HLF gene protects blood stem cells by maintaining them in a resting state

January 17, 2018
The HLF gene is necessary for maintaining blood stem cells in a resting state, which is crucial for ensuring normal blood production. This has been shown by a new research study from Lund University in Sweden published in ...

Magnetically applied MicroRNAs could one day help relieve constipation

January 17, 2018
Constipation is an underestimated and debilitating medical issue related to the opioid epidemic. As a growing concern, researchers look to new tools to help patients with this side effect of opioid use and aging.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.