New Technolgies in Managing T1D

I support JDRF and have been ever since being diagnosed with diabetes in 1998. The reason I support the organization is simply because I would like to one day find a cure for diabetes, and make the lives of others like myself much easier.  What exactly does JDRF do with all the money they raise each year if a cure still hasn’t been found? That’s one big question I kept asking myself, and I’m sure I’m not alone.

Funds raised to find a cure for diabetes are not only used to find a cure; they are also used to improve the lives of those suffering for diabetes. Recently I got onto a CGM, or continuous glucose monitor, which is a device that graphs my blood sugar levels. The CGM also makes me aware of which direction my sugar levels are headed, and how fast they are moving. The device also vibrates or beeps to warn you that sugars are to high or low.

My insulin pump also helps to control where my sugar levels are. I am currently on the OmniPod Pump, and it is awesome. I don’t have to have wires hanging off the side of my body, and I don’t have to worry about taking any long lasting insulin either. I tend to have lows in the morning, shortly after waking up becauseof the continuous insulin I receive throughout the night… but my CGM usually alarms me of lows. In a way, I have created my own “artificial pancreas” by using all these devices, but my blood sugar levels still remain in the back of my mind constantly.

Omnipod Insulin Pump on the left, Dexcom CGM on the right. These keep my blood sugar levels on track, but they should be able to communicate with one another.

After attending a JDRF meaning last week, I discovered that research is currently being done to create a real artificial pancreas, using machines many type 1 diabetics already use. They are trying to create an interface link, between the insulin pump and the CGM, to automatically regulate blood sugar levels. This also means that diabetics would have little or no finger pricking, and their insulin pump would determine how much insulin they need throughout the day. The idea of the artificial pancreas is a combination of two state-of-the-art technologies in diabetes management: the continuous glucose monitor, which measures blood sugar regularly, and the insulin pump, which can be programmed by its user to deliver a predetermined amount of insulin. Diabetics will hopefully have a lot less to worry about, and can relax more on a regular basis.

Currently, people on an insulin pump and CGM have to manually monitor their sugar levels and make a decision on how much insulin they need to receive before eating. Medtronic Inc recently filed an application with the FDA looking for approval of a new device, linking the insulin pump to the CGM with some new features. As a safety feature, a different interface would also shut off when sugar levels drop quickly or get too low. The device is already approved in more than 50 countries, but if approved in the United States, it would pave the way for so many more tools to manage type 1 diabetes.

Of course after hearing all about this, I wanted to jump on-board and test it out. Not quite yet, but soon, they will be conducting trial studies of the new interface.  I offered to volunteer, and hope to be accepted. I also joked that I’d be in Europe this summer, and should try to get it there. Unfortunately, in the United States there are a lot more rules and regulations that we need to abide by.

I am very disappointed that I can’t have it now! I wish life was just that much easier. I was simply impressed to see how their technology advancements have shifted, and to see that all the money raised to JDRF is helping to improve my life, and so many more!