Sufferers of Type 1 Diabetes have the constant stress of monitoring their blood sugar levels and ensuring that they have administered the correct dose of insulin to keep their body functioning at its optimum point. However, new research and developments in the field suggest that this is all set to change…
BBC News published a piece (original article here: http://www.bbc.com/news/health-28810813) about the development of the first bionic pancreas which could change the lives of diabetes sufferers the world over.
Currently, Diabetes 1 sufferers must check their blood sugar levels every time they eat, exercise or experience higher than normal stress levels. Type 1 diabetics do not produce and regulate insulin themselves (through the pancreas) so it must be injected. However, the bionic pancreas will do the job all on its own.
The device operates using a smart phone, making decisions at five-minute intervals over whether the body needs a dose of insulin to lower blood sugar or a dose of glucagon to increase it. The mechanism operates a continuous blood sugar (glucose) monitor via Bluetooth and pumps to automatically deliver the correct quantity of hormones directly into the bloodstream.
The device is currently being trialled on a small scale however the components are all in place and it has been configured to work with an automated system. If successful, the bionic pancreas could help lift the burden placed on diabetes 1 sufferers by monitoring their blood sugar levels for them and leaving individuals free to carry on with their lives.
Key figures in medical research on both sides of the Atlantic are positive about the development of this bionic organ.
Dr Alasdair Rankin, Diabetes UK Director of Research says that “there is now real hope that this technology has the potential to transform the lives of people with Type 1 diabetes within a generation.”
Dr Steven Russell of Harvard University explains how the device could be used to tackle one of the most dangerous aspects of diabetes – ‘dead in the bed syndrome’. “This is the scenario where somebody with diabetes goes to bed and they are found dead in the morning and the cause of that is low blood sugars that occur at night” says Dr Russell.
Trials have shown that the bionic pancreas controlled blood sugar better than the patients and indicates a move towards a new standard of diabetes care.
For more information on the bionic pancreas and how it can help diabetes 1 sufferers, please click on the links below:
BBC News – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-28810813
Harvard Medical School – “Bionic pancreas could help people with type 1 diabetes control blood sugar’ – http://bit.ly/1jHL6G4
Web MD – – Bionic Pancreas Shows Promise for Type 1 Diabetes: Device removes guesswork from insulin therapy, reduces low blood sugar episodes, study finds: http://bit.ly/1y9WnIW