Breakthrough research opens the door for Artificial Pancreas

The pancreas is a vital organ situated deep inside the abdomen produces insulin and regulates the blood-sugar levels. If the pancreas is unable to produce the required insulin or body doesn’t respond to insulin may consequence in diabetes mellitus. Present-day many oral and surgical therapies are there to treat the diabetes. Though there are multiple therapies, management of blood-sugar levels still remain a challenge for the clinician. To overcome these glitches, clinicians paved a way to manage diabetes mellitus by introducing artificial pancreas.

Currently existing technology alike to artificial pancreas allows insulin pumps to convey insulin to people with diabetes after noting reading from glucometers, but these two modules are separate. Now the state-of-the-art technology, joining both the parts in a closed loop scaffolds an artificial pancreas.

The artificial pancreas is a medical device, which monitors the blood-glucose levels in type 1 diabetes patients and robotically regulates the extent of insulin entering into the body. The artificial pancreas, renowned as closed-loop control of blood glucose levels in diabetes, is a device uniting a glucose sensor, a control algorithm, and an insulin infusion device.

The mechanism of action involves:

  1. Glucose sensor: Monitors the blood-glucose levels and transmits reading to the control device
  2. Control algorithm: Calculates the accurate dose to be injected
  3. Insulin infusion device: Pumps the insulin into the skin to control the blood-glucose levels.

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The main target of the AP is twofold:

  1. To advance insulin replacement therapy till glycemic control is practically normal as manifest by evading of the complications of hyperglycemia, and
  2. To lessen the burden of treatment for those who are insulin-dependent.

There are several other alternatives to artificial pancreas, with enhancements in latest technologies like transplants of only Beta cells from the pancreas, which secrete insulin and Whole pancreas transplantation. Nevertheless, recipients of these beta cells transplant need medications to suppress their immune systems alike as other organ transplants. As in the whole pancreas transplantation, prime surgery is required. Furthermore, in beta cell transplantation, the human body’s immune system itself will attack the transplanted beta cells and devastates a large proportion of them. On the other hand, artificial pancreas obviously avoids the necessity of immunosuppressant drugs and major surgery.

Studies conducted till date divulged that the device is managing the blood-glucose levels effectively without constant monitoring of a patient and giving them time-off and holiday from diabetes management. Issues such as reliability, promptness of action of insulin used, convenience and cyber security to guard devices from hacking, accuracy of glucose monitors, are being addressed before bringing into the market. In addition to this, researchers globally endure to work on challenges faced by artificial pancreas technology such as slowness in the action of insulin in the blood after injections-which could not be effective in conditions of vigorous exercise. Hence, the researchers also continue to advance the software in closed loop systems to make it as accurate as possible in blood-glucose management.

The definite timeline for availability of artificial pancreas encompasses regulatory approvals with encouraging attitudes of regulatory authorities such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is presently reviewing one proposed artificial pancreas with agreement perhaps as soon as 2017. And a latest review by the UK National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) conveyed that automated closed-loop systems might be expected to emerge in the (European) market by the close of 2018.

Today’s latest news publicized that Artificial Pancreas is approved by the FDA for type I diabetic patients above 14 yrs.

“Hope all the research goes well and gift an artificial pancreas for type II Diabetic patients also by 2018”

-Sahithi Modadugu

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