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  • Saanvi Jain

Artificial Pancreas

Did you know that 34.2 million Americans, almost 10.5% of the population, have diabetes? Approximately 2.2 million of these deaths are due to diabetes and high blood glucose. Diabetes mellitus, also known as just diabetes, is a disease resulting in high blood glucose levels. A healthy amount of glucose levels is necessary for proper brain, liver, kidneys, and just general body functions. There are a couple different types of it including type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, and gestational diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition where the pancreas can produce only small amounts of insulin. Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the body's processing of glucose. In prediabetes, individuals have high blood sugar, but not enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes. Gestational diabetes occurs in pregnant women. Fortunately, most types of diabetes can be kept in check with proper doses of insulin.

Although there are several ways to deliver insulin to the body, one of the most advanced methods is using an artificial pancreas. These are generally used for those who consistently have to monitor their blood sugar, so mostly those with type 1 and type 2 diabetes use it. An artificial pancreas, or an automated insulin delivery system, mimics the bodily functions of a healthy, functional pancreas. It monitors glucose levels and accordingly adjusts insulin delivery. In essence, it is an insulin pump attached to a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). The advantage of the CGM is that it monitors blood sugar levels consistently and even updates between every 60 seconds and 5 minutes. They also predict the trends of blood glucose levels based on recorded data. This monitor is controlled by a receiver, which consists of a handheld device that is coded by certain algorithms to ensure that the device releases the correct doses of insulin at regular intervals. This machine is a replacement for the traditional fingerstick blood sugar reading devices that is more likely to contribute to insulin measurement mistakes.

One of the misconceptions about the artificial pancreas is that it is non-invasive. What most people fail to realize is that there is no such thing as a non-invasive insulin insertion method with high response rates. One non-invasive insulin is inhalable insulin, but it has not been tested enough to be used more commonly among diabetes patients. Thus, all of the effective procedures pierce the skin, however, with an artificial pancreas, the skin does not have to be constantly pierced.

These artificial pancreases help those with serious diabetes conditions, such as type 1 and type 2 diabetes, live with a better quality of life. With these systems, they do not have to constantly check their glucose levels manually and can just check the device instead. In addition, they do not have to administer insulin to themselves manually either. The artificial pancreas does that on its own.

The artificial pancreas is a groundbreaking invention for those with diabetes. Scientists, researchers, medical professionals, and even programmers are continuing to work on the technology behind it to make it even less bulky. For instance, many companies have even started to work on making it so the glucose monitor is attached to a smartphone app instead of a receiver. Getting insulin in some way to diabetes patients is very crucial to their survival, and professionals continue to experiment with ways to measure glucose levels and administer insulin without breaking any skin barriers. Although they have not had any luck yet, they are doing phenomenal research to further the medical research behind it.

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