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Artificial pancreas performs well in small study

By Stephen Feller
Artificial pancreas performs well in small study
Researchers said letting the artificial pancreas monitor and maintain blood glucose kept transplanted islet cells alive and producing insulin longer. Photo by Robert Przybysz/Shutterstock

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- Researchers in a small study found combining pancreas islet transplantation with a closed-loop insulin pump was a better method for maintaining glucose levels in the body than using multiple daily injections.

Attempts to use an artificial pancreas -- the closed-loop insulin system monitors levels in the body and increases them when needed -- have been promising, as a study earlier this year with children who have type 1 diabetes found it vastly improved glucose control.

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Islet transplantation also has showed potential as a cure for type 1 diabetes, although it has only successfully done so in one patient in a recently-launched clinical trial.

"Use of the mechanical artificial pancreas in patients after islet transplantation may help the transplanted cells to survive longer and produce more insulin for longer," said Dr. Gregory Forlenza, a researcher at the University of Colorado Denver, in a press release. "It is our hope that combining these technologies will aid a wide spectrum of patients, including patients with diabetes, in the future."

Working with nine patients who'd had islet transplantation, researchers found the closed-loop system was better than self-monitoring and administering injections several times a day. The artificial pancreas continuously monitors levels, allowing for real-time adjustment of insulin in the body, researchers reported.

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The study is published in the American Journal of Transplantation.

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