Bionic Pancreases May Become Game Changers For Those With Type 1 Diabetes

One of the most incredible recent medical inventions is one that benefits people with type 1 diabetes. With type 1 diabetes, the pancreas produces either not enough or no insulin (via Mayo Clinic). There is no cure for this form of diabetes, and people treat it by taking insulin and monitoring their blood sugar levels throughout the day to keep them normal. But that may soon change due to the development of automated insulin delivery systems.

These devices — also known as hybrid closed-loop systems — contain three parts: a glucose monitor, a glucose pump, and a "brain" that automates how the monitor and pump communicate with each other (via GoodRx). The idea is that the device automatically adjusts insulin levels according to information that wearers input regarding their meals and exercise. These smart devices are also called "bionic pancreases," and a recent study shows that they could be game changers for people diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

People using the bionic pancreas saw lower blood sugar levels

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, included 326 participants diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Participants were between the ages of 6 and 79, and they were divided into two groups: those who used automated insulin delivery systems and a control group who followed standard insulin delivery methods. The randomized trial, which lasted 13 weeks, showed that people who used a bionic pancreas saw their A1C drop from 7.9% to 7.3%. A1C in participants who treated their diabetes with standard insulin-delivery methods stayed the same at 7.7% throughout the trial. Hemoglobin A1C tests measure a patient's blood sugar levels, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The ability to use an automated insulin delivery system would make living with type 1 diabetes much simpler because the devices are hands-off, meaning they eliminate the need for a finger prick. These devices also allow the user to adjust levels of insulin, which can prevent hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia (via GoodRx).