The artificial pancreas -- a device which monitors blood glucose in patients with type 1 diabetes and then automatically adjusts levels of insulin entering the body -- is likely to be available by 2018, conclude authors of a review article published online on June 30, 2016 in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes). The open-access article is titled “Coming of Age: the Artificial Pancreas for Type 1 Diabetes.” Issues such as speed of action of the forms of insulin used, reliability, convenience, and accuracy of glucose monitors, plus cybersecurity to protect devices from hacking, are among the issues that are being addressed. Currently available technology allows insulin pumps to deliver insulin to people with diabetes after taking a reading or readings from glucose meters, but these two components are separate. It is the joining together of both parts into a “closed loop” that makes an artificial pancreas, explain authors Dr. Roman Hovorka and Dr. Hood Thabit of the University of Cambridge, UK. "In trials to date, users have been positive about how use of an artificial pancreas gives them 'time off' or a 'holiday' from their diabetes management, because the system is managing their blood sugar effectively without the need for constant monitoring by the user," the authors say. One part of the clinical need for the artificial pancreas is the variability of insulin requirements between and within individuals -- on one day a person could use one third of their normal requirements, and on another three times what they normally would. This is dependent on the individual, their diet, their physical activity, and other factors.
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