With the invention and testing of the artificial pancreas , medical innovations in the treatment of type 1 diabetes made a leap forward.
Can this algorithm-based smartphone improve the lives of people with diabetes?
One in 10 Americans has diabetes. Of those, 5 percent have type 1 diabetes , which equates to 1.5 million Americans. However, according to an official at the Ministry of Health, 10 percent of Iran’s adult population has diabetes, and of these, Half of them are unaware of their disease.)
Treatment for type 1 diabetes is very effective, but there is a tortuous way to get it. Patients should donate blood continuously, have their blood glucose levels measured, and inject the right amount of insulin.
One of the signs of great progress and achievement is reaching the artificial pancreas . The idea of an artificial pancreas has been debated for decades, but has only recently been explored as an available option.
This invention has the potential to improve millions of lives. The project has been underway since 2006, and such a closed loop that could monitor both glucose levels and the right amount of insulin seemed impossible, but now, with the efforts of researchers, it has come close to reality and improved the lives of millions. Man is ahead.
At first, the idea of an artificial pancreas was met with skepticism by the scientific community, but the researchers resolutely continued their efforts, adding: “Not only will we show that it is not impossible, but we believe that it can be implemented even on a smartphone.”
What is type 1 diabetes?
In normal people, insulin helps the body absorb glucose from the blood and facilitates this process. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin.
Type 2 diabetes is caused by a lifestyle such as poor diet and inactivity. But type 1 diabetes is completely different and has nothing to do with lifestyle. A defective immune system recognizes and attacks the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin as unnecessary.
To compensate for this deficiency in the body’s chemical reactions, patients should scratch their fingertips each time and measure the amount of glucose in their blood with a blood test and, accordingly, inject the required amount of insulin to be normal. . This process must be done each time to keep blood glucose levels in the normal range.
Aside from the annoyance and difficulty of the process, there is a possibility of error in this task, as in other tasks assigned to humans. On the one hand, high glucose levels can damage the kidneys, nerves, eyes, and blood vessels over time, and on the other hand, low glucose, in severe cases, can lead to death or coma.
So anything that prevents error is an advantage.
How does an artificial pancreas work?
The artificial pancreas, also known as the “closed blood glucose control loop” in diabetes, eliminates most of the human intervention currently needed for treatment.
The core of the system uses software called InControl, which runs on configured smartphones. The device, which fits in your hand, communicates wirelessly with a blood glucose monitor, an insulin pump and a remote control center. The blood glucose meter measures blood glucose every 5 minutes and gives the results to a device equipped with InControl software.
The device, with its algorithms, detects the amount of insulin needed and applies it with a thin needle. Without the patient shedding a drop of blood.
Major innovations have been made in algorithms designed to predict the level of insulin required. Because glucose levels alone are not enough to determine the amount of insulin needed at that time, it is necessary to determine the maximum glucose level and predict its changes to get the amount of insulin needed per person.
The human pancreas does these calculations easily, but designing something that can easily do those calculations is hard work.
The researchers said of these algorithms:
The algorithms are based on a model of the metabolic system that is obtained by continuously measuring glucose levels, insulin levels received in the past, and any other possible signals that make it possible to detect and predict blood sugar fluctuations. Insulin levels are then determined and applied based on the predictions made.
One of the areas that was given special importance was the prevention of hypoglycemia, and a special algorithm was designed, which we called the “security monitoring system”. We did most of our experiments on this system and got a good answer from it.
New member test
The final test of the artificial pancreas began in nine regions in the United States and Europe. For the first phase, 240 patients with type 1 diabetes use the system for 6 months. Then in the second phase, 180 patients continue from the first phase to another 6 months. Finally, the test results will be compared to the usual method of insulin injection in two main positions: to what extent is blood sugar well managed and is the risk of hypoglycemia reduced?
Regarding their future plans for an artificial pancreas, the researchers said:
For ultimate success as the optimal treatment for diabetes , the artificial pancreas must prove its safety and show that it can give the desired result. And these can only be achieved with a final test that can be used by patients as a long-term treatment.
Our next goal is to find new patterns in the treatment of diabetes. The artificial pancreas is not the only device with a single application. This device is fully adaptable and wearable, which puts the patient in the network of digital treatment environment.
This innovation was made in the hope of making a dramatic and positive change in the lives of millions of people, and its goal is to relieve the burden of insulin control from patients with type 1 diabetes. Fortunately, thanks to algorithms, the artificial pancreas can keep blood glucose levels normal. But with each development, new doors open, and researchers say about future developments in the natural pancreas:
In the case of multi-signal and multi-hormone systems, studies are underway to use signals such as heart rate , motion sensors, and hormone levels such as amylin in these systems, and we believe that technology will advance in this direction.
Currently, researchers are eager to investigate the use of artificial pancreas for other hormones, as well as the possibility of wearing the device only on certain occasions, such as after meals or at bedtime.
Finally, a bright future can be seen in the face of artificial pancreas, and with the help of other technologies, it is hoped that diabetes will be cured.