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'Bionic Pancreas' Ups Glycemic Control in Type 1 Diabetes

MONDAY, June 16, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The "bionic pancreas" -- a device that uses a sophisticated computer program working in concert with several diabetes management devices -- successfully managed blood glucose levels in its first real-world trials on adults and children with type 1 diabetes. The findings were presented Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association, held from June 13 to 17 in San Francisco, and were published online simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine.

In the current study, the researchers tested the device in outpatient trials for 20 adults and 32 teenagers with type 1 diabetes. The teens were at a diabetes summer camp. Both trials included five days on the bionic pancreas and five days on usual management with an insulin pump.

In the adults, average daily blood glucose levels were 159 mg/dL on their usual management. On the bionic pancreas, that dropped to 133 mg/dL. The amount of time spent with low blood glucose levels was nearly halved -- from just over 7 percent on usual care to about 4 percent on the bionic pancreas. For the campers, aged 12 to 20, their usual care routines gave them an average blood glucose reading of 157 mg/dL, while they had an average of 138 mg/dL on the bionic pancreas. The researchers also found the mean frequency of interventions for hypoglycemia to be lower during the bionic-pancreas period versus the control period in the campers.

The next step begins with expanded outpatient trials. In the meantime, the researchers will continue to work on the fully integrated device, and hope to start clinical trials on that in 18 months or so, study senior author Edward Damiano, PhD, of Boston University, told HealthDay.

The trials were funded by the US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

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