Insulin Pump Feature May Prevent Low Blood Sugar
Device could improve quality of life for people with type 1 diabetes, experts say
The new study compared 49 people on standard pump therapy to 46 people on the low-glucose insulin suspension pump. The study volunteers were between the ages of 4 and 50, and all had type 1 diabetes.
Before the start of the study, the people in the low-glucose insulin suspension group had about six times the rate of moderate to severe hypoglycemic episodes compared to those in the standard pump therapy group.
After six months, that trend almost reversed, and people in the standard insulin pump group had nearly four times as many hypoglycemic episodes as those with the low-glucose insulin suspension pump.
The study found no difference in levels of long-term blood-sugar control between the groups, and there were no serious episodes of high blood-sugar levels in either group.
"The major findings were that moderate and severe hypoglycemia was reduced significantly on the new treatment," Jones said. "There were zero overnight convulsions in the group on the low-glucose suspend treatment, whereas the group on usual therapy continued to have events at the same rate as before."
"New technologies will improve the treatment of diabetes and reduce the burden of care," he said. "To reduce the fear of severe hypoglycemia would be a major advance, as would reduction in the frequency of major events. This would allow diabetics to get better control of their diabetes and improve their lives significantly."
Dr. Rubina Heptulla, chief of the division of pediatric endocrinology and diabetes at the Children's Hospital at Montefiore in New York City, said the low-glucose insulin suspend pump would help improve the quality of life for people with type 1 diabetes, and parents of children with type 1 diabetes.
"For some people, their [long-term blood-sugar levels] can never be brought down because they're petrified of low blood sugar, especially during sleep," she said. "If you're deathly afraid of hypoglycemia, this type of pump may be a way to mitigate those fears. It's a safety feature."
Heptulla said she was surprised that the current study didn't find a difference in long-term blood-sugar control for those on the low-glucose suspend system.
Both Jones and Heptulla said the low-glucose suspend pump is the first step on the path to an artificial pancreas, a device that experts hope will eventually be able to take over the control of diabetes management from patients.