by Jess Snyder
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved outpatient trials as part of an Artificial Pancreas Project (APP) for the first time in the United States. This study, which is funded in part by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), is the first APP test in the United States where patients do not stay in a hospital setting; instead, they carry out the requirements of the study while continuing their normal lives at home. The new artificial pancreas device imitates the behaviors of a real pancreas, the organ which does not function properly in individuals who have diabetes. The device would both monitor and control high and low blood sugar by using a continuous glucose monitor and an insulin pump. It would automatically monitor blood sugar levels and then emit the appropriate dose of insulin when needed, alleviating the need for users to perform the tasks manually. The FDAs approval indicates an important step towards developing guidelines and technologies that can assist in regulating and maintaining the health of individuals with type 1 diabetes.
Moira McCarthy, the National Chair of Outreach for the JDRF and the mother of a daughter with type 1 diabetes, is enthusiastic about these developments, especially what they could mean for teenagers with type 1 diabetes.
“I have great hope for the APP,” says Moira. “The artificial pancreas is a continuous glucose monitor combined with a pump that’s smart enough to do that work the teens do not want to do. Recent studies of the APP have found that teens benefit from it greatly. I have hope that in the near future we will have a tool that will help teens through their rough years.
“I know a young woman who was diagnosed with type 1 as a small child who went into an inpatient APP trial during her college spring break. During the trial’s one-week in-hospital stay she was told to eat and drink as she pleased and live her life without thinking about diabetes while the artificial pancreas did that job for her. I wondered if she’d resent missing a spring break trip so I called her afterward and said, ‘So, how was it?’ She replied, ‘It was the best vacation I’ve ever taken in my life.’ That’s how much teens see diabetes as a burden. I will never forget that response, and it is part of the reason I understand the desperate need for better tools for the teens with diabetes. Until the cure is found, I really hope for better tools for these teens.”
The type 1 diabetes community remains optimistic as further outpatient tests are scheduled for the summer of 2013 and as far into the future as 2015.
Read other articles by Jess Snyder
Green Machines: How to Turn Fruits and Veggies into Summer Snacks
Teenie Weenie Size Ten to Fourteenie?
Sweet Treats: Cool Snacks for Children with Diabetes
Jessica Snyder joined the Spry Wellness Blog as a contributor in 2012. She is currently working to obtain an undergraduate degree in English and Communications at the University of Michigan.