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Childhood diabetes 'could be managed by artificial pancreas'

5th February 2010

Medical experts in the UK believe that an 'artificial pancreas' could be used to manage type 1 diabetes in children.

A team at the Institute of Metabolic Science at the University of Cambridge has developed a new process which could improve the effectiveness of existing medical treatments, specifically the application of continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps.

The study, which is published in the Lancet, has shown that using the systems overnight can reduce the risk of hypoglycaemia, or hypos, while a new algorithm developed by the team can accurately determine how much insulin the patient needs.

A group of children with type 1 diabetes were treated with a combination of continuous glucose monitors, insulin pumps and the new algorithm to create an 'artificial pancreas' and their risk of hypoglycaemia was significantly decreased.

Lead author Dr Roman Hovorka commented: 'Our results show that commercially-available devices, when coupled with the algorithm we developed, can improve glucose control in children and significantly reduce the risk of hypos overnight.'

According to Diabetes UK, more than 2.6 million people in Britain suffer from the condition, with 15 per cent having the type 1 form.

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