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Research under way to develop 'artificial pancreas'

Researchers are developing an 'artificial pancreas' for children and adolescents with Type 1 diabetes.

If successful, the new technology could dramatically improve the quality of life for young people with diabetes by making the condition easier to manage and reducing the risk of hypos.

The research is taking place at the University of Cambridge and clinical trials on children are scheduled to begin in January.

"Many people with diabetes, including children, are already successfully using external insulin pump therapy, which is designed to remove the need for a daily series of injections," said Cathy Moulton, Care Advisor at Diabetes UK.

"It is a very exciting idea that one day an artificial pancreas, which would be a combination of a continuous glucose sensor and an insulin pump, could be developed to automatically regulate a person’s blood glucose levels.

"Achieving good blood glucose levels is essential to the management of diabetes and preventing diabetes complications such as blindness, amputation, kidney problems and heart disease."

The 'artificial pancreas' will work by taking minute-by-minute blood glucose reading using a continuous glucose monitor.  The signal will then be transmitted wirelessly to a handheld computer, which calculates the amount of insulin needed.  That information is then transmitted to an insulin pump which delivers the insulin.

The research is being funded by The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. (JDRF)

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