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Artificial Pancreas Continues to Show Promise
Date:6/28/2010

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

SUNDAY, June 27 (HealthDay News) -- New research suggests that artificial pancreas technology can help diabetics gain greater blood sugar control overnight, even when they have eaten a big meal or had wine for dinner.

The promise of this emerging technology is to free diabetics from the need to constantly monitor their blood sugar levels by letting a computer program do the job -- constantly adjusting glucose and insulin levels as needed. Using this technology is still seen as a stopgap, however, while a biological solution to diabetes is sought.

"We have pioneered the development of a closed-loop artificial pancreas because we believe it will significantly impact the lives of individuals with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, by providing exquisite control of blood sugar," Dr. Richard A. Insel, executive vice president for research at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), said during a noon teleconference Saturday.

A symposium on advances in the technology -- co-sponsored by the American Diabetes Association and the JDRF -- is slated for Sunday as part of the American Diabetes Association's annual meeting, in Orlando, Fla.

For people with type 1 diabetes, controlling their blood sugar levels is a full-time job. Too much insulin can cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), which can be life-threatening, while too little causes the serious damage of diabetes such as kidney, vision and circulation problems.

"The promise in the near term of these technologies is not only to help us reduce significantly the risk of long-term diabetic complications, but also to reduce the risk of having a catastrophic hypoglycemic event, and further help people with diabetes live easier," Aaron Kowalski, research director of the JDRF's Artificial Pancreas Project, said during the teleconference.

"This will help keep people healthy while we drive toward a biological appro
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