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Diabetes artificial pancreas hope

5th February 2010

Scientists in Cambridge have made a breakthrough in helping children with Type 1 diabetes.

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They have shown that an "artificial pancreas" can be used to regulate blood sugar in children with the condition.

Findings published in The Lancet from a trial show that a "real time" sensor measuring glucose levels combined with a pump that delivers insulin can boost overnight blood sugar control and help cut the risk of blood sugar levels dropping to a dangerous level.

Study leader Dr Roman Hovorka said: "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."

Seventeen children took part in the study over 54 nights in hospital.

Glucose monitors and insulin pumps are both used individually but researchers developed an algorithm to calculate the appropriate amount of insulin to deliver, based on the real-time glucose readings and tested it over different circumstances in the children.

The artificial pancreas was shown to reduce the times that blood glucose dropped to a level considered as mild hypoglycaemia by half.

The research was funded by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Its chief executive Karen Addington said: "We need to redouble our efforts to move the artificial pancreas from a concept in the clinic to a reality in the home of children and adults with type 1 diabetes."

Diabetes UK said the development was an important step forward in managing overnight blood glucose levels.

 

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