The Artificial Pancreas: A Step Forward in Type 1 Diabetes Treatment

Although Type 2 diabetes is the more common type and has far more information with regard to management, prevention, and the potential advent of a cure, Type 1 diabetes is seeing significant strides forward in treatment.

While insulin pumps are not new, and the patch is still in development, there is one method of treatment that has begun its first run in an actual human trial: the artificial pancreas.

What Is an Artificial Pancreas?

In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas no longer performs its function in developing insulin. Characterized as an autoimmune disorder, Type 1 diabetes indicates that the body is not merely experiencing blood sugar sensitivity, but that it is no longer capable of producing insulin. The body’s immune system has begun attacking the pancreas and rendering its functions useless.

While Type 2 can, in some cases, be managed by diet alone, the same is not usually true of Type 1. Instead, insulin is an indispensable aspect of treatment and requires the use of syringes, a pump, or oral medication to keep insulin on an appropriate, safe level.

An artificial pancreas, then, is exactly what it seems to be: a device created to function as the body’s pancreas when the pancreas is too damaged to perform its function.

Artificial Pancreas Versus a Pump

Although pumps have done incredible things for people with diabetes, the artificial pancreas is superior in a few key ways. The most significant difference is this: a pump supplies a consistent level of insulin in an effort to stabilize blood sugar levels. Although the amount of insulin can be adjusted manually, it does not change according to the wearer’s needs.

An artificial pancreas is able to not only provide insulin, but to provide hormone therapy as a whole to stabilize blood sugar. The device detects blood sugar levels and adjusts its hormone compensation accordingly.

What This Means for Type 1

Because individuals with Type 1 run a higher risk of developing serious issues during the night as they sleep, the artificial pancreas provides parents of little ones with Type 1 and those who struggle to keep their blood sugar in check. It helps to provide some peace of mind during the night as their hormones will be administered according to individual needs, rather than a continuous stream of a predetermined amount of insulin.

While the artificial pancreas is not a cure for Type 1 diabetes, it is an exciting step forward in treatment and can improve the lifestyles and overall health of countless men and women currently living with Type 1.

[expand title=”References“]

CBS. Accessed 4/11/17.
Medical News Today. Accessed 4/11/17.


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