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Good News for Diabetes patients: A New artificial pancreas to control blood sugar
For decades, humans are struggling to find cure for dangerous diseases. Researches and developments are made for such diseases. Diseases like HIV/AIDS, cancer, or even diabetes are always studied for a better treatment. One of the most popular disease is diabetes. This is because more people are affected by this disease each day. This is because one of two reasons, whether that person inherit the disease from the parents or getting the disease because of bad eating habit and obesity. This is why diabetes is divided in two types, diabetes type 1 and type 2.
For diabetes type 1, there is no cure because the beta cell in pancreas which produces insulin is killed by the immune system. The only choice to prevent from too much blood sugar is to give insulin to the body so that the glucose in blood can be broken down to produce energy. The usual method to do this is by giving the insulin shot and frequent blood sugar testing. The insulin therapy might delay or prevent complications caused by high level of blood sugar. Common complications along with diabetes are kidney failure, retinal damage, even a cardiovascular disease. But, insulin therapy is not an easy therapy because it is very difficult to monitor the blood sugar. Sometimes, the insulin injected is too much, and this can lead to death because of the blood sugar is too low (hypoglycemia).
Based on the news in Sciencedaily.com, there is a new method tested to overcome such problem. Boston University has developed a new system that imitates the mechanism of blood sugar controlling in pancreas. This artificial pancreas system can control the glucose in blood in athe normal level without causing hypoglycemia in a small group of patients. The system consists of blood glucose monitor and insulin pump combined with a software that controls the injection of insulin and the blood-sugar-raising hormone called glucagon. So, instead of sending only insulin in the patients’ blood, this artificial pancreas also deliver the other hormone, glucagon.
The experiment showed a good result. By delivering both hormones, the patient’s blood sugar is controlled perfectly in the normal level without any risk of hypoglycemia. The experiment was conducted by testing 11 adults with type 1 diabetes. These patients were equipped with the artificial pancreas along with a monitor to get the accurate glucose levels. This monitor used a sensor which was placed into a vein. The system was used to control the blood sugar for 27 hours during three times meal containing high carbohydrates and slept the night at the hospital. During this study, six participants were able to maintain the blood sugar level, while the other five experienced hypoglycemia and had to drink a certain amount of orange juice to raise their blood sugar.
The analysis finally revealed that the participants absorbed insulin at different rates. The five hypoglicemic participants absorbed insulin in slower rate, while the other six were given the right rate of insulin pumping during the test. After this discovery, the insulin-pumping rate for the five participants were re-adjusted to a slower rate and the experiment was repeated. The repeated experiment showed better result. The five participants who experienced hypoglycemia in the first experiment were no longer hypoglycemic in the second experiment. This showed that the insulin pumping rate may vary individually.
Based on the explanation above, the new insulin/glucagon system or artificial pancreas is successfully developed to control blood sugar for type 1 diabetes patients for 27 hours. The system is combined with a software that controls the rate of insulin pumping which can be adjusted depends on each individual conditons. The final result showed that from eleven participants tested for this system, none had experienced hypoglycemia.