Over the years there have been immense advancements in the treatment and management of diabetes. In my 10 years with diabetes, I have witnessed the development of treatment and devices I never even imagined were possible when I was first diagnosed. Since I've been diagnosed, the insulin pump has grown tremendously, the continuous glucose monitor has been advanced to near perfection, glucometers have improved, new types of insulin have been introduced, and much more has been advanced. I remember that when I was about 8 years I was part of a trial to test one of the first continuous glucose monitors. I had to carry a large device around with me and I was connected to a long, thick tube for 3 days. I even had to cover the device in a plastic bag since it wasn't waterproof and take it in the shower with me. However, now, most continuous glucose monitors are wireless, waterproof, and barely the size of your palm. At this point in time, it's hard to imagine what is next. Talk of an artificial pancreas, smart insulin, and much more has been rumored for a while now. However, a few days ago, the development of the Bionic Pancreas seemed to be promising.
The definition of bionic is "having superhuman strength or capacity." The bionic pancreas has more strength than the inventors could have ever imagined, simply because of the way it could change the development of diabetes management from now on. The bionic pancreas consists of two insulin pumps, one that delivers insulin and one that delivers glucagon; basically one to lower and one to raise your blood sugar. A continuous glucose monitor is also attached to the patients. Finally, a single smartphone app is used to control all three devices. The bionic pancreas was tested for 5 days on 32 teens aged 12-20 at a diabetes sleep-away camp, and 20 adults in their normal life. When compared to 5 days on an insulin pump, the bionic pancreas lowered the teens average blood sugar 19 mg/dL and lowered the adults average blood sugar 26 mg/dL. It also lowered the amount of time spent with a low blood sugar from 7% to 4%. No extreme low or high blood sugars were reported during the test, and everyone tested would have an A1C below 7, the ideal A1C (3 month blood sugar average) for a non-diabetic patient, if they remained on the bionic pancreas for 3 months. Researchers hope to conduct an outpatient trial incorporating all three devices into one monitor within the next 18 months.
Although the bionic pancreas is a while from being on the markets and available to the public, every other major innovation we use today was also a long time from reality at one point in time! The bionic pancreas has the ability to change the lives of everyone living with type 1 diabetes forever. Simply inserting one site every few days could replace the burden of managing my blood sugars, counting carbohydrates, adjusting for lows and highs, waking up in the middle of the night to test my blood sugar, and so much more. Although it is not an end all cure, it is a step towards one and it would make daily life with diabetes much more enjoyable. With constant innovations and research like the bionic pancreas, I think that there is always hope for a better tomorrow with type 1 diabetes.
Hello everyone! I'm Hannah! I'm 16 years old and have been living a normal life with type 1 diabetes for 10 years! I'm so excited to share the journey of Penpals United with you through our blog!