Thursday, January 14, 2010

Is the "Artificial Pancreas" finally coming for Type 1 Diabetics?

Families of children with Type 1 Diabetes know all about two devices that have revolutionized treatment of the disease: the insulin pump and the continuous glucose monitoring system (CGMS).

Patients with Type 1 Diabetes suffer from an autoimmune condition in which immune cells (that normally fight off infections) attack the body's own pancreas for reasons that are not entirely clear. This results in destruction of the pancreatic beta cells, normally the site of insulin production and release into the blood stream. Insulin is the hormone responsible for keeping blood glucose (also known as blood sugar) at normal levels throughout the day. Without sufficient amounts of insulin, blood sugar rises uncontrollably, causing both short- and long-term adverse effects on the body.

In the past, the only way to keep blood sugars in check was to give multiple injections of insulin throughout the day. Now it looks like there may be a new piece of technology on the horizon that comes as close as we've seen to mimicing the actions of the pancreas itself.