Youths with type 1 diabetes push for FDA approval of the artificial pancreas

Children and adolescents from all areas of the country who have type 1 diabetes joined together in Washington, D.C. recently as part of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's Children's Congress.

While some of these youngsters aimed to raise awareness of type 1 diabetes and encourage research to find a cure for the condition, one 14-year-old Maine resident appeared before the Senate to push for approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the artificial pancreas.

In an article published by the Morning Sentinel, Caroline Jacobs explained that the artificial pancreas has the potential to improve the quality of life for youngsters like her who have type 1 diabetes.

The newspaper reported that the device may provide continuous monitoring of an individual's blood glucose levels, while dispensing proper amounts of insulin to help patients achieve tight blood sugar control.

The American Diabetes Association states that tight blood sugar control means that people with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes attempt to maintain optimal blood glucose levels, which range between 70 and 130 mg/dL. The goal of this diabetes management strategy is to prevent the slow onset of disease complications, including eye problems, kidney failure and nerve damage.

However, the organization notes that tight blood sugar control may increase an individual's risk of experiencing hypoglycemia, which refers to dangerously low blood glucose levels.

The possibility of hypoglycemia is one reason why Jacobs advocated for the approval of the artificial pancreas, since the device may help keep blood sugar levels stable throughout the night or at times when patients cannot check these measurements.

"The impact the artificial pancreas would have on my life is, I would never have to test my blood sugar anymore, wouldn't have to poke my fingers. It is a closed-loop system, and it would do everything for me," said Jacobs, quoted by the news source.

The Morning Sentinel noted that another treatment advancement - an improved variation of the insulin pump called a low-glucose suspend system - has already been approved in several other countries as a way to help reduce the risk of hypoglycemia in patients with type 1 diabetes, but has yet to be supported by the FDA.