Artificial pancreas found effective

Jan. 30, 2013 at 9:32 PM
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MONTREAL, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- An automated artificial pancreas under development simulates the normal pancreas by continuously adapting insulin delivery, Canadian researchers say.

Dr. Remi Rabasa-Lhoret, endocrinologist at the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montreal at the University of Montreal, said a trial compared the dual-hormone artificial pancreas with conventional diabetes treatment using an insulin pump.

The dual-hormone artificial pancreas controls glucose levels by automatically delivering insulin and glucagon based on continuous glucose monitor readings and guided by an advanced algorithm, Rabasa-Lhoret said.

"We found that the artificial pancreas improved glucose control by 15 percent and significantly reduced the risk of hypoglycemia as compared with conventional insulin pump therapy," first author Ahmad Haidar, a doctoral student at Rabasa-Lhoret's research unit and McGill University, said in a statement.

"The artificial pancreas also resulted in an eight-fold reduction of the overall risk of hypoglycemia, and a twenty-fold reduction of the risk of nocturnal hypoglycemia."

Blood glucose control is the key to preventing serious long-term complications related to high glucose levels -- such as blindness or kidney failure -- and reduces the risk of hypoglycemia, or dangerously low blood glucose that can lead to confusion, disorientation and, if severe, loss of consciousness, Rabasa-Lhoret said.

"Approximately two-thirds of patients don't achieve their target range with current treatments," Rabasa-Lhoret said. "The artificial pancreas could help them reach these targets and reduce the risk of hypoglycemia, which is feared by most patients and remains the most common adverse effect of insulin therapy.

The findings are published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

There was no indication when an artificial pancreas might become available for patients in need of one.

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