Artificial pancreas may simplify diabetes management for individuals with type 1 diabetes

Researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a new "closed-loop" artificial pancreas that may help individuals with type 1 diabetes monitor their blood glucose levels more accurately and conveniently, and thereby avoid disease-related complications.

The device is being evaluated in clinical trials conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The scientists explained that they used complex algorithms commonly associated with oil refining techniques in order to create the closed-loop artificial pancreas, which automatically detects blood sugar levels and administers the appropriate doses of insulin throughout the day.

They said that their device may help take the "guesswork" out of diabetes management for individuals with type 1 diabetes.

While insulin pumps continuously release small doses of the hormone, the new device only does so when needed, which may reduce the odds of a diabetic experiencing hypoglycemia (low blood glucose levels) or hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels).

Many individuals who have type 1 diabetes count carbohydrates as part of their diabetic diet. This helps them estimate how much the food that they eat will affect their blood sugar levels. However, researchers said the artificial pancreas will simplify this eating habit by allowing wearers to input the amount and type of food that they consume, which will be factored into the device's insulin output.

According to the National Institutes of Health, different forms of insulin, such as those delivered by a pump or injections, differ in how fast they start to work and how long they last. This is why it is important for type 1 diabetics to review their blood glucose levels with their physicians in order to determine the appropriate type of insulin one should use. Some people may even require a combination of two different types of insulin.

The organization explains that most people with type 1 diabetes need between one and four insulin injections daily. However, these individuals must learn how to adjust the amount of insulin they take in situations that involve exercise, sickness, dietary changes or travel.

Consistently regulating blood glucose levels may help individuals with type 1 diabetes avoid serious disease-related complications such as nerve damage, kidney failure and amputation.