The good news for people who have type 1 diabetes is that the disease is manageable. The bad news is that diabetes is a complicated condition to have to manage. Besides having to watch one’s diet, one has to monitor one’s blood glucose levels several times a day by pricking one’s skin to draw blood, putting it on a strip, and then putting the strip into a meter to ascertain what the blood glucose level is. Then one has to inject oneself with insulin as needed.
According to a recent article in MedPage Today, the medical device industry is developing a patch that combines blood glucose monitoring with the administration of insulin when the glucose becomes elevated. The patch was worked very well in mouse studies.
The patch, about the size of a penny, contains more than a hundred microneedles that contain insulin and a glucose detecting enzyme called glucose oxidase. When excess glucose is detected, a chemical reaction is started that causes the microneedles to release just enough insulin to compensate.
The mouse studies found that the device controls blood glucose levels far more precisely than the old method of monitoring and injecting. There is far less danger of hypoglycemia, a condition that sometimes happens to people with diabetes when the injected insulin overcompensates and brings the blood glucose level too low. It is sometimes called insulin shock.
No news exists as to when human trials will begin, not to mention when the patch may be available in a clinical setting. If the device is seen to work with humans, it will be a game changer in the management of type 1 diabetes.
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