"Whether you have a young child with diabetes or you're an adult with diabetes, it's very difficult. Type 1 is a 24-7, 365-days-a-year job. It's a real struggle and folks just want some relief. While our goal at JDRF is to find a cure and walk away, this is important while we wait and it's one of the biggest advances in diabetes management," Kowalski said.
The holy grail of diabetes management, short of a permanent cure, is a system that could take over all of the jobs that people with type 1 diabetes currently do themselves -- calculating the impact of food and exercise on insulin levels, as well as adjust for the glucose naturally produced in the body. Experts refer to this as a "closed-loop" system.
This initial artificial pancreas system, however, won't be able manage all of those tasks. People with diabetes will still need to input the amount of carbohydrates they're eating so the insulin pump knows how much insulin is needed, and manual blood sugar checks will still be necessary to confirm the CGM readings.
"Trying to mechanically reproduce the human pancreas is going to be very difficult," said Dr. Henry Anhalt, a pediatric endocrinologist and medical director at Animas. That's why the initial system is going to attempt to prevent serious highs and lows in blood sugar levels. "It's a step towards the perfection we're seeking and will significantly improve the quality of life," he said.
Both Anhalt and Kowalski said the initial system will help give parents and people with diabetes some peace of mind.
"For a parent to be able to get some sleep, knowing a child's blood sugar won't go too high or low, is truly revolutionary," said Anhalt.
Although the exact configuration of the new device hasn't been settled, it will combine an An
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