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Artificial pancreas brings hope to children with type 1 diabetes

A diabetes cure is the holy grail for sufferers of type 1 diabetes, the more rare form of the disease that requires daily insulin injections to maintain blood glucose level stability. A study by Cambridge University has found that an artificial pancreas could offer hope for type 1 diabetes patients, including the thousands of children with diabetes in the UK. The study was funded by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and published in The Lancet.
An artificial pancreas monitors blood sugar levels, then calculates the correct dosage of insulin and pumps the required volume into the body during the night. Night-time is regarded as dangerous for children with type 1 diabetes, because blood sugar levels can drop dangerously low.
Over the course of 54 nights, a group of children between the ages of five and eighteen were studied. The artificial pancreas system kept blood glucose levels in the normal range for some 60 per cent of the time, which compares favourably with 40 per cent using a normal insulin pump .
Dr. Hovorka of the Institute of Metabolic Science at the University of Cambridge was reported as saying: “Our results show that commercially-available devices, when coupled with the algorithm we developed, can improve glucose control in children and significantly reduce the risk of hypos overnight. This is the first randomised study showing the potential benefit of the artificial pancreas system overnight using commercially-available sensors and pumps. Our study provides a stepping stone for testing the system at home.”

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