The Food and Drug Administration recently approved an artificial pancreas system to aid in treatment of people with Type 1 diabetes (T1D). More than 1 million Americans have the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and there is no known cure.

The artificial pancreas will monitor blood glucose levels and injects insulin into the blood as needed instead of the patients manually checking and injecting themselves.

Latha Ramalingam, a research assistant professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Texas Tech University, is available to talk about the effect this approval may have on diabetes treatment. She researches fat cells and beta cells, their influence on diabetes and obesity and the processes of and mechanisms underpinning insulin secretion.

ExpertLatha Ramalingam, research assistant professor, (806) 834-0841 or [email protected]

Talking points • Short-term clinical trials conducted on an artificial pancreas showed better control of blood glucose compared to manual insulin pumps and other interventions, especially at night. Patients reported peaceful sleep because they could depend on technology.• Having an artificial pancreas also would remove some of the energy and mental fortitude required for self-medication.• As with any new development, there are some concerns. A patient using an artificial pancreas still would need to take an insulin injection before a meal because the time required for the artificial organ to sense glucose is slower than the time for the real pancreas to perform the same function. Consequently, insulin secretion would be delayed in the case of the artificial pancreas.• The other issue she sees is the economy of the artificial pancreas. Reports at this time suggest the cost to be between $6,000 and $9,000 per organ, which could put it out of the reach of many people with diabetes. The price likely will drop over time, however, as technology improves.

Quote• “Given its potential benefits and the very development of it through cutting-edge science, the artificial pancreas is a major breakthrough. It seems to be a fascinating development that despite some current shortcomings has immense potential to positively impact treatment of Type 1 diabetes. Whether it will be a paradigm shifter, only time will tell, but what is certain is it has ushered in a more patient-friendly, ‘smart’ solution in keeping with the spirit of the times.”Find Texas Tech news, experts and story ideas at Texas Tech Today Media Resources or follow us on Twitter.