If you’ve been paying any attention at all to the latest news in diabetes treatment, you’ve already heard about the artificial pancreas, and with good reason: It’s an incredible piece of technology, and it shows every sign of being an absolute game changer.
One of the most difficult parts of living with diabetes is simply how much mental space the disease occupies. I’m constantly thinking about my levels, calculating my blood sugar and insulin doses, and taking my best guess at how a million different factors are going to affect me. Is it overly hot out? Is the sugar free ice cream still going to spike my sugar with carbs? Did my pump get inserted correctly? Even when everything is going perfectly the constant effort can be exhausting.
Finally, there might be an answer. The “artificial pancreas” is really a closed loop system, which means it is able to monitor glucose changes in the body and and adjust itself in response — all without the wearer lifting a finger.
If my blood sugar were to swing while I’m writing this, I’ll have to first notice the potentially dangerous change, calculate the insulin adjustments, and then click the buttons on my pump to change my dose. At absolute best, it’s reactionary rather than proactive. Even when I get all of these steps right, the insulin I’m receiving is slow acting, and I might still be sent on a roller coaster of sugar swings before I level out.
The new system, however, has a body sensor that detects glucose shifts on it’s own and sends a signal to the insulin pump, which is able to automatically adjust the dose it’s administering to maintain a steady, controlled range at all times. With the sensor and pump in constant communication, blood sugar levels should stay in a safer range, theoretically. Personally, controlling excess highs and lows during the nighttime is the most challenging. I’ll often get up a few times in the night to adjust because I start to feel uncomfortable. This may have the potential to minimize those overnight swings.
The closed loop system is the first of its kind, the culmination of years of dedicated research and hard work by a great many people, both scientists and supporters alike (want to see more progress like this? Here’s how you can join in and support the cause!). It’s not a cure, but it could be truly life-changing for people with Type 1 Diabetes who have never had the freedom to simply go about their day, knowing they won’t collapse unless they constantly monitor their invisible internal systems.
It’s a transformative new treatment, and it has the potential to improve a lot of lives. To be first in line to try the new system, sign up now for the Priority Pathway Program.