Artificial pancreas technology may be effective in adults with type 1 diabetes

During the night, many adults with type 1 diabetes experience dangerously low blood sugar levels. This can result in a number of potentially serious health complications. However, the use of an artificial pancreas may significantly improve the ability of these individuals' bodies to regulate glucose levels, according to a new study from University of Cambridge researchers.

Closed-loop insulin delivery systems, also known as artificial pancreases, have become more common in recent years among children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes. They can take real-time readings of a patient's blood sugar levels and deliver an appropriate dose of insulin. However, it is unproven in adults.

For the study, which was published in the British Journal of Medicine, researchers asked a group of 24 adults with type 1 diabetes to use either an artificial pancreas or a standard insulin pump after eating a medium-sized meal shortly before bed. After one to three weeks of this routine, the participants switched the treatment method they used during sleep.

On average, participants using closed-loop insulin delivery systems had blood sugar levels within their target ranges for 28 percent longer during the night than those who used standard insulin pumps.

In addition to demonstrating that artificial pancreas technology can be an effective nighttime treatment for adults with type 1 diabetes, the results also suggest that it may be useful in everyday treatments. This innovation could lend greater flexibility to the lifestyles of adults with type 1 diabetes.

Individuals with type 1 diabetes are unable to produce their own insulin. They often must take injections of the hormone every day of their lives. Artificial pancreas technology could eliminate much of this burden.