What is insulin?
Insulin is one of the hormones that is very important for our energy levels by keeping the blood sugar levels on a constant and healthy balance, which means they are not too high (when it is called hyperglycemia) nor too low (when it is called hypoglycemia). What insulin does is allowing the body to use all the sugar or the glucose that exists in the carbohydrates that we eat and convert it into energy or simply storing the glucose for a future use. Insulin is the hormone made by the pancreas.
For people that are suffering from diabetes and need insulin in order to maintain their blood sugar levels on a normal balance, an insulin-delivery device would be something vital. That is why the US Food and Drug Administration or FDA has accepted the use of the first automated insulin-delivery device. The system is actually a very big step forward in what concerns the creation of a so-called artificial pancreas, which would be capable of regulating in an automatic way the blood sugar levels in people who suffer from diabetes. The insulin-delivery device is made by the manufacturer called Medtronic and it was approved to treat only the people who suffer from type 1 diabetes and who have the age of 14 or older. Medtronic have announced that the device will start to ship in the spring of 2017.
The director of the Center for Devices and Radiological Health of the Food and Drug Administration has declared that the objective of the FDA is to facilitate people’s access to the technologies that are able to improve the quality of their lives, especially if it’s about people who suffer from chronic diseases and need a day to day maintenance, as well as ongoing attention. The director has also stated that the insulin-delivery device will be able to treat the people with type 1 diabetes while help them to freely live their lives, without having to monitor themselves the glucose levels and to handle the insulin administration.
How the insulin-delivery device is called ?
The s called MiniMed 670G and although it has been received as an artificial pancreas, it is not (yet) a truly biological cure for the diabetic people and it cannot replace the cells that are destroyed by the body. MiniMed 670G or the insulin-delivery device is based on three components:
- A coin-size transmitter that is attached to a tiny needle which is inserted in the patient’s skin and it continuously monitoring the glucose levels
- A pump that can deliver the exact precise dosage of insulin that is needed and it does that through a separate catheter that is inserted in the patient’s skin
- A computer chip that is able to use the data from both components in order to optimize the insulin delivery on a minute by minute basis
There are other types of information that one should know about the insulin delivery device, such as the followings.
People that suffer from type 1 diabetes can be exposed to mistakes that are made by their own bodies: the body mistakes the pancreas’s beta cells that are responsible with the insulin making and treats them as foreign invaders, which determines it to react, attack and destroy the beta cells. What insulin does here is to tell the cells of the body to take the necessary amount of sugar from the blood and to use it as a fuel. When the body doesn’t have enough insulin, the blood sugar levels can go skyrocket and make the patient enter a diabetic coma because the body burns the fat stores and muscles in order to create energy. This is why the diabetic people has to constantly keep an eye on the glucose levels and administer insulin when it is needed, sometimes even several times per day. However, there is a possibility that the insulin levels can vary from day to day, depending on the processes that occur inside the body and the ones that we can’t see. There are factors that can make the insulin levels vary, such as if the person eats at hours earlier or it has been exercising recently, or if that person has a growth spurt, or if the person is going through puberty or if the person has menstruation, or if the person is getting sick, is feeling stressed or is feeling excited. Each of these things can make the glucose levels vary. If the blood sugar levels are constantly high, on the long term, these can lead to a series of more dangerous and complicated health issues, such as organ damage, including the nerves, the heart and the kidneys. On the other side, if one delivers too much insulin, this can lead to a low blood sugar levels and enter in a hypoglycemic shock and have seizures or end up dead.
What the insulin deliver device wants to do is to avoid the variability of the blood sugar with the help of a predictive model. The predictive model can estimate where the blood sugar levels are going to be in the next minutes and re-evaluates the same level at every 5 minutes. In this way, it aims to keep the blood sugar levels on a normal balance, so people who suffer from diabetes won’t have to be worried about the right amount of insulin that they constantly need anymore.