Scientists develop new artificial pancreas for people with type 2 diabetes

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Type 2 diabetes causes levels of glucose—blood sugar—to become too high. Ordinarily, blood sugar levels are controlled by the release of insulin, but in type 2 diabetes insulin production is disrupted.

In a study from the University of Cambridge, scientists successfully developed an artificial pancreas for use by patients living with type 2 diabetes.

The device doubled the amount of time patients were in the target range for glucose compared to standard treatment and halved the time spent experiencing high glucose levels.

In the study, the team tested an artificial pancreas that can help maintain healthy glucose levels.

The device combines an off-the-shelf glucose monitor and insulin pump with an app developed by the team, known as CamAPS HX.

This app is run by an algorithm that predicts how much insulin is required to maintain glucose levels in the target range.

The researchers have previously shown that an artificial pancreas run by a similar algorithm is effective for patients living with type 1 diabetes and patients with type 2 diabetes who require kidney dialysis.

In this study, they did the first trial of the device in a wider population living with type 2 diabetes.

The researchers recruited 26 patients with type 2 diabetes, who were randomly allocated to one of two groups—the first group would trial the artificial pancreas for eight weeks and then switch to the standard therapy of multiple daily insulin injections; the second group would take this control therapy first and then switch to the artificial pancreas after eight weeks.

The team used several measures to assess how effectively the artificial pancreas worked. The first was the proportion of time that patients spent with their glucose levels within a target range of between 3.9 and 10.0mmol/L.

They found on average, patients using the artificial pancreas spent two-thirds (66%) of their time within the target range—double that while on the control (32%).

A second measure was the proportion of time spent with glucose levels above 10.0mmol/L. Over time, high glucose levels raise the risk of potentially serious complications.

Patients taking the control therapy spent two-thirds (67%) of their time with high glucose levels—this was halved to 33% when using the artificial pancreas.

Average blood sugar levels fell—from 12.6mmol/L when taking the control therapy to 9.2mmol/L while using the artificial pancreas.

The app also reduced levels of a molecule known as glycated hemoglobin, or HbA1c.

No patients experienced dangerously low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) during the study.

The team says the artificial pancreas can provide a safe and effective approach to help them, and the technology is simple to use and can be implemented safely at home.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies about a cure for type 2 diabetes, and Stanford study finds drug that prevents kidney failure in diabetes.

For more information about diabetes, please see recent studies about unhealthy plant-based diets linked to metabolic syndrome, and cinnamon may improve blood sugar in people with prediabetes.

The study was conducted by Aideen B. Daly et al and published in Nature Medicine.

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