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Artificial pancreas for 100,000 people with type 1 dabetes

The new style insulin pumps being worn around the hip – and in the pocket.                          SHUTTERSTOCK

THE LIVES of more than 100,000 people in England and Wales with type 1 diabetes could soon be transformed, thanks to new technology.

National charity Diabetes UK says the new system of managing the potentially life-threatening condition will be a life-changer for those people unable to control their blood sugar levels.

The system – often to called an “artificial pancreas” – is also being recommended for women with type 1 diabetes who are pregnant women or planning pregnancy.

Nikki Joule, policy manager at the charity, said: “Hybrid closed-loop technology has the potential to transform the lives of people with type 1 diabetes, improving both clinical outcomes and their quality of life.

“Type 1 diabetes can take a huge mental toll, with people manually calculating how much insulin they need regularly throughout the day.

“By automating these calculations, this technology can greatly alleviate the emotional burden of diabetes. We look forward to it being rolled out on the NHS and will work towards ensuring that everyone who could benefit from this life-changing technology has access to it.”

The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the health body recommending the technology, said the system improves quality of life and reduces the risk of long-term health complications such as blindness and amputations.

About 400,000 people in the UK are living with type 1 diabetes, a condition where the body attacks and kills the pancreas, the organ that produces insulin, the vital hormone that converts sugar into energy.

The system works by linking insulin pumps that are worn around the hips and continuous glucose monitors with a computer algorithm that can calculate the amount of insulin needed.

But users will still need to tell the system when and how many carbohydrates they are eating – and can do so with a smart phone.

Reports say the system currently costs nearly £6,000 per patient per year.

People with blood sugar levels of 64mmol/mol or 8% are (ideal levels are 48mmol/mol – 6%) are expected to be offered the treatment.

Anyone can have their say on the guidance until Tuesday 31 January on the NICE website.



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