Mimicking the way a dialysis machine works for kidney disease patients, an artificial pancreas can lead to better blood sugar control in diabetics, researchers from Oxford and Cambridge along with their Greek counterparts have reported.
The findings, reported in the BMJ, show that artificial pancreas treatment provides almost two-and-a-half extra hours of normal blood glucose levels (normoglycaemia) a day, while reducing time in both high (hyperglycaemia) and low (hypoglycaemia) blood glucose levels.
The researchers concluded: “Artificial pancreas systems are an efficacious and safe approach for treating outpatients with type 1 diabetes. The main limitations of current research evidence on artificial pancreas systems are related to inconsistency in outcome reporting, small sample size, and short follow-up duration of individual trials.”
Endocrinologists in India, however, expressed apprehensions that such a setup may be too expensive for a common patient.
Artificial pancreas is a system that measures blood sugar levels using a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and transmits this information to an insulin pump that calculates and releases the required amount of insulin into the body, just as the pancreas does in people without diabetes. It is also possible to release glucagon, yet another pancreatic hormone, through a similar contraption; both insulin and glucagon can be delivered too. The system works only in those people whose diabetes is a result of deficiencies in their pancreas function, that is type I diabetes, in which the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels within the normal range.
Said Dr Anoop Misra, Chairman, Fortis-C-DOC Centre of Excellence for Diabetes, Metabolic Diseases and Endocrinology, “Artificial pancreas is an exciting approach to better management of patients with type 1 diabetes, who often struggle with blood sugar control and multiple injections. However, most patients in India cannot even afford insulin pump (available in India), and artificial pancreas will cost more, putting it out of reach.”