Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects many people around the world, whether it be children or adults. There are still many studies being done on how to diagnose and treat the disease, and fortunately, there have been many discoveries thanks to advanced technology. Just recently, there has been a breakthrough in treating diabetes, and it involves patients getting fitted with an artificial pancreas. But how does that work? Read on to discover this new trial treatment can help with your insulin levels.
One of the primary ways people treat and manage diabetes is through an insulin pump, which would continuously pump insulin into the body. While this is a great gadget, it will require frequent adjustment. Some people are required to manually check their glucose levels several times a day, injecting themselves with insulin to control their sugar levels and avoid it from getting too high or low.
Besides the injections, other things will require restrictions and lifestyle changes to maintain life with diabetes. And unfortunately, it is still difficult to measure and maintain accurate blood sugar levels. Plus, it would pose a high risk for long-term medication and complications, despite all these medicine and lifestyle changes.
That is why researchers are finding ways to improve treatments for diabetes. One of the significant studies includes replacing destroyed cells in the pancreas with healthy cells that will be able to restore glucose monitoring and insulin release without the use of extreme medication.
While it has already been tested with hundreds of patients, some of them have not been very successful as it still required immunosuppressant drugs for life, as the immune system will continue to attack the implanted cells.
How does pancreas implantation work?
For those who are unfamiliar with what a pancreas implantation is, it is a surgery where surgeons implant a healthy pancreas from one donor into a patient who has diabetes. It is taken from donors who are brain-dead but on life support, with a pancreas that is carefully matched to the receiver.
The pancreas is transported in a container with a cooled solution that preserves it for up to 20 hours. The surgery will take three hours.
During the procedure, the diseased pancreas is not removed. The "new" pancreas will be placed in the right lower part of the abdomen, where its blood vessels would be attached to the person's blood vessels. The duodenum from the pancreas will then be connected to the person's bladder or intestine.
When getting a pancreas implant, there are some things you will need to prepare for. You will need to consult a doctor before going through with the procedure, ensuring that you are in good health and avoiding any vices such as alcohol or smoking. Following your diet and taking any medication prescribed is vital as well to proceed with the surgery.
Prognoses have shown that once the implant is successful, you won't need to take insulin shots anymore, nor would you need to regularly test your blood sugar or follow a diet suitable for people with diabetes.
But you will need to learn how to maintain your diet to avoid. You may need to take medications to prevent rejection of the donated pancreas as well, so you will be able to live a life free from diabetes.
If your condition is worsening and you will need a pancreas implant, then consult your doctor to check off any risks that may affect the procedure. The patient may also need to need a kidney transplant, as pancreas implants are rarely done alone.
What about an artificial pancreas?
Developments have been made in finding an effective treatment for diabetes that won't include taking in immunosuppressant drugs for a lifetime, nor will it require the heavy monitoring of their glucose levels. And that is through creating an artificial pancreas to implant in patients' bodies.
There have already been human trials on pancreas implants, with positive results coming in. There have been artificial pancreas systems currently being developed, with most of them focused on insulin pump communicating and responds to readings with the use of a continuous glucose monitor.
The new device, or artificial pancreas, is implantable and with a refillable reservoir of insulin, surrounded by gel that softens and hardens depending on the change of sugar levels. It will be able to release insulin at the right time, eliminating the need for injections or regularly checking your insulin levels.
But the device will also require refilling in regular intervals through a tube that will access the device from the skin. While it still requires more successful clinical trials, there is now a price on the device and procedure, which is around $6,600. It is still a massive development compared to those who are taking multiple injections per day.
How is a pancreas implantation an effective way to diagnose diabetes?
The reason why the pancreas holds a link with diabetes is because the organ produces enzymes and hormones that will help digest food. One of these vital hormones is insulin, which regulates glucose.
If the pancreas is unable to make enough insulin because of diabetes, the glucose will begin to build up in your bloodstream, where your cells will starve for energy and cause diabetes. The various types of diabetes involve the pancreas not working as it should. However, the way your pancreas doesn't function correctly will depend on the kind of diabetes you have.
The reason why having a pancreas implant is an effective way to treat diabetes or diagnose is it because the organ is a vital part of your body that produces the insulin needed to sterilize your glucose level. Without the pancreas working well, there will be problems, especially when it is left untreated.
People with diabetes who have undergone a pancreas implant found that they have stabilized blood sugar levels, almost as close to those who do not have diabetes.
While further research still needs to be done before it's released to the public, many successful clinical trials have been done and will hopefully bring the medical world one step further towards finding a permanent cure.
For those who have diabetes and are looking for new and effective ways on how to treat it, pancreas implantation may be an option. With an automatic glucose monitor, it saves the time and hassle of manually adjusting your insulin levels.