DRC & Research News

This page shares the latest news in T1D research and DRC’s community.

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Investigating a New Form of Diabetes Management – a Smart Patch

The traditional method of managing type 1 diabetes is testing blood sugar levels, then dosing and administering the correct amount of insulin to keep blood sugar within the target range. This is done over and over again throughout the day, each and every day. Researchers are constantly seeking improved methods of managing the disease that are less patient intensive.

Over the years, scientists have created continuous glucose monitors, insulin pumps, artificial pancreases, and other systems to assist with managing type 1 diabetes (T1D). Each device has its pros and cons depending on the patient and their situation. Patients must find what works best for their needs.

A recent study is investigating yet another treatment option: a smart insulin patch. This small patch contains tiny microneedles with glucose-sensing polymer. When blood sugar begins to rise, the polymer is activated and releases doses of insulin. As blood-glucose levels return to normal, it stops administering insulin.

This technology removes the burden of constantly testing blood by patients and handles the testing and administration on its own. The needles penetrate the skin just far enough to be effective without causing much more than a pinprick of pain. The current model is designed to manage blood sugar levels for up to 24 hours and has been tested on mice and pigs. After 24 hours, the patch would need to be replaced with a fresh one.

Researchers are in the process of obtaining approval to begin human trials for the smart insulin patch. Although it may be several years before this technology could potentially be brought to market, it is a step in the right direction toward creating a more effective, efficient way of managing T1D. Researchers also believe that it may help reduce risk of insulin overdoses which can lead to hypoglycemia.

Though not involved with this study, Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is excited to see what happens in the future if the patch is approved for human trials. It has the potential to become one more tool for individuals with T1D to use to manage the disease and enhance their quality of life. The DRC is committed to supporting research regarding T1D and providing funding to early career scientists for novel, peer-reviewed studies. Learn more about current projects and how to support these efforts by visiting https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Exploring Challenges with Hybrid Closed-Loop Insulin Delivery Systems

There are many different options for managing diabetes from manually checking blood sugar and administering insulin to using a hybrid-closed loop insulin delivery system that does the work automatically with some human input. This type of insulin delivery system, also referred to as an artificial pancreas, was designed to improve diabetes management and blood sugar control without as much demand on patients.

However, a recent study found that nearly one-third of children and young adults stopped using the hybrid closed-loop system within six months. Some of them even discontinued use of a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system. The study involved 92 participants with type 1 diabetes who had an average age of 16. Each participant began using the Medtronic 670G system in manual mode for two weeks before switching to auto mode. They received follow-up training via phone within one month after starting auto mode, then were seen in a clinic every three months during the next six months.

The Medtronic 670G system uses CGM data to automatically control basal insulin delivery. This can help manage changes in blood sugar more quickly and administer the correct amount of insulin without patient input. If boluses are needed, however, the individual must enter their carb count and blood glucose number manually.

Researchers found that use of auto mode continued to decrease over the 6-month trial period, dropping from 65.5% during the first month to 51.2% by the sixth month. In total, 28 youth stopped using the hybrid closed-loop system within the first six months, and 21 of those 28 stopped using CGM as well. This raises the question as to whether CGM use posed some barriers to success and continued use of the hybrid closed-loop system.

The study did show that while participants used the artificial pancreas, their time spent within range for blood glucose improved from 50.7% to 56.9%, and their HbA1c levels decreased from 8.7% to 8.4%.

Understanding the strengths and challenges of artificial pancreas use in children and young adults can help researchers to make improvements and adjust systems for better results and continued use. Hybrid closed-loop therapy is just one option for managing type 1 diabetes, and it is important for individuals to find what works best for their situation.

Diabetes Research Connection is committed to providing early-career scientists with the funding necessary to support research designed to prevent, cure, and better manage type 1 diabetes. Funding is critical to continue advancing understanding and therapies for the disease. To learn more about current projects and donate, visit https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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