Artificial pancreas better controls blood sugar for people with type 2 diabetes

Device used to treat type 1 may be beneficial.

Lynne Adkins
June 26, 2018 - 9:00 pm

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — There could soon be another tool in the battle of type 2 diabetes.

The artificial pancreas is currently approved for use in people with type 1 diabetes. 

Antonio Di Carlo, a transplant surgeon at Temple University Hospital, said the device monitors and controls blood sugar levels automatically.

"There's a very, very small needle that you implant into your belly," he explained, "and then there's either a remote or something like the size of a pager that you hook on to your belt or elsewhere that serves as the unit."

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which the pancreas doesn't produce much, if any, insulin — a hormone your body needs to balance glucose in your bloodstream. In type 2 diabetes, which develops over many years and has been linked to obesity, the body becomes less responsive to insulin.

If blood sugar is too high or too low, it can lead to a host of complications including kidney damage, nerve problems and diabetic comas.

A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine has shown success with the device for hospitalized type 2 diabetics. It had better control over blood sugar levels compared to patients receiving insulin manually. It mimics the functions of the pancreas, though it doesn't fully equate to its biological counterpart.

Controlling glucose levels is essential to avoid serious health complications.

In future generations, experts believe, this technology could improve health outcomes and reduce doctors' and nurses' workloads managing glucose levels for the millions of patients with diabetes admitted to hospitals each year.

More than 30 million adults in the United States have diabetes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's the seventh leading cause of death and the top cause of kidney failure.

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CNN Wire contributed to this report. 

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