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What would an Artificial Pancreas do for people with Diabetes?

  • Broadcast in Health
Powerful Patient

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The pancreas plays a key role in producing hormones and enzymes that help us digest our food and extract the nutrients from food which are passed to our cells.  Without a properly functioning pancreas, our bodes cannot digest foods and nourish the cells of our bodies.

Diabetes is a condition where the level of sugar is too high, usually caused by a fault in the regulation of sugar and insulin in the body.  People with diabetes have to manage manually the system of sugar regulation which is normally done automatically for us by the pancreas.  They may need to test their blood sugar levels multiple times a day, and dose themselves with insulin to balance the sugars and carbohydrates they eat.  Some people manage well; others may have a condition that is more fragile and changeable making this manual system very tricky to manage.  When sugar is too high or too low the person can feel very sick, can lose consciousness or get confused, making it even more difficult to figure out what to do.

Robin and Joyce talk with Dr. Dan Finan about the many efforts to automate this tricky balancing system -- to essentially create an artificial pancreas that can measure the blood sugar level and respond with the appropriate dose of insulin even when the patient is sleeping.  

It should be noted too that these efforts toward an artificial pancreas in fact focus on the balance of insulin and do not address the other digestive enzymes which are also essential to a healthy digestive system.

Dr. Dan Finan is Director of Research at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

JDRF is the only global organization with a strategic research plan to end type 1 diabetes (T1D). JDRF wants to keep people with T1D healthy and safe today until we reach our ultimate goal of a cure and universal prevention of T1D. See www.jdrf.org