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UK's 'artificial pancreas' to transform lives of type 1 diabetes patients

Discover the NHS England's groundbreaking 'artificial pancreas' device, poised to transform diabetes management. This innovative technology offers hope for thousands grappling with type 1 diabetes, providing automated insulin delivery and improved outcomes.

Muskan Gupta Written By: Muskan Gupta @guptamuskan_ New Delhi Published on: April 02, 2024 20:08 IST
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Image Source : GOOGLE UK's 'artificial pancreas' to transform lives of type 1 diabetes patients

The National Health Service (NHS) England is set to introduce an innovative 'artificial pancreas' device, marking a significant milestone in diabetes management. Thousands of individuals, spanning both children and adults, grappling with type 1 diabetes across England, are slated to benefit from this pioneering technology.

Termed the Hybrid Closed Loop system, colloquially known as the 'artificial pancreas,' this cutting-edge device represents a paradigm shift in diabetes care. It functions by continually monitoring blood glucose levels and autonomously adjusting insulin delivery through a pump directly into the bloodstream.

Type 1 diabetes poses a considerable challenge as the pancreas fails to produce adequate insulin, a vital hormone that facilitates the entry of sugar from the blood into cells for energy. Conventionally, individuals with type 1 diabetes rely on manual insulin injections to manage their condition, but this breakthrough device offers a promising alternative.

Starting April 2, local NHS systems have commenced the process of identifying eligible candidates for the artificial pancreas device. With approximately 269,095 people currently living with type 1 diabetes in England, this initiative holds the potential to revolutionise diabetes management for a significant portion of the population, reported National Health Service (NHS) England.

The introduction of the artificial pancreas not only alleviates the need for manual insulin injections but also mitigates the risk of life-threatening hypoglycemic and hyperglycaemic episodes, which can have severe consequences for individuals with type 1 diabetes, including seizures and coma.

To facilitate the implementation of this transformative technology, NHS England has allocated £2.5 million to local health systems, ensuring preparedness to identify and support patients who can benefit from this life-changing innovation.

The decision to roll out the artificial pancreas follows a successful pilot programme led by NHS England, where 835 adults and children with type 1 diabetes participated, experiencing enhanced management of their condition.

Dr. Clare Hambling, National Clinical Director for Diabetes, expressed optimism about the impact of this technology, stating, "This transformative technology holds the power to redefine the lives of those with type 1 diabetes, promising a better quality of life as well as clinical outcomes."

Identifying symptoms of type 1 diabetes is crucial for early intervention. Dr. Hambling emphasised the importance of recognising symptoms. "Type 1 diabetes is an easily missed diagnosis so if you are concerned about symptoms – the 4Ts – going to the Toilet, passing urine more frequently, with Thirst, feeling Tyred and getting Thinner (losing weight), please come forward for support," he added.

According to the National Health Service (NHS) England, Health Minister Andrew Stephenson said, "People living with type 1 diabetes face the constant stress of needing to monitor their blood glucose levels to stay healthy and avoid complications. This new technology will ease the burden on patients and allow them to manage their condition more easily, without needing to draw blood or wear a continuous glucose monitor."

The National Institute of Health Care and Excellence (NICE) approved the NHS's roll-out of the technology in December 2023, paving the way for its widespread implementation. With a comprehensive 5-year implementation strategy in place, eligible patients will start receiving the Hybrid Closed Loop system from April 1, 2024.

The device will be provided to children and young people under 18 with type 1 diabetes, pregnant women with type 1 diabetes, and adults with type 1 diabetes with elevated HbA1c levels.

So, how does the artificial pancreas work? Diabetes UK explains that it mimics the function of a healthy pancreas by continuously monitoring blood glucose levels and delivering insulin as needed through a pump. The system integrates a glucose monitor, insulin pump, and smartphone app, offering real-time monitoring and adjustment of insulin doses.

Overall, the introduction of the artificial pancreas represents a significant leap forward in diabetes management, promising improved quality of life and clinical outcomes for individuals living with type 1 diabetes across England.

ALSO READ: Study finds adding some weight may lower death risk for diabetes patients

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