Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Artificial Pancreas Reduces Highs & Hypos

Insulin injection

The average person with diabetes is outside the optimum range of blood glucose levels more than 60% of the time.

By Jenny Gunton & Nigel Greenwood

Researchers hope that within 3 years new insulin pump software may be available to replace the functions of pancreatic beta-cells lost in Type 1 diabetes.

Jenny Gunton is Group Leader of the Diabetes and Transcription Factors Group at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research. Nigel Greenwood is Honorary Senior Fellow in the University of Queensland’s School of Mathematics and Physics, and Founder of the bioinformatics company Neuromathix (NeuroTech Research Pty Ltd).

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease that can be diagnosed at any age but most commonly starts in childhood. In the past it was also called juvenile-onset diabetes, childhood-onset diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. However these names are no longer used because many people with Type 2 diabetes also require insulin, while some children have Type 2 diabetes and some adults develop T1D.

There are thought to be 130,000 people in Australia with T1D, and about 95% of children with diabetes have T1D. The incidence of T1D is increasing by more than 3% every year.

Insulin is a hormone in the blood that keeps blood glucose levels from rising too high by helping glucose enter muscle, liver and other cells. Beta-cells are the only cells in the body that release insulin. They live in islands in the pancreas called islets of Langerhans.

In T1D, the immune system becomes confused and attacks the beta-cells in the pancreas. Without enough insulin, the blood glucose levels (BGL) rise. Before the discovery of insulin in 1921, T1D was a uniformly fatal disease.

Insulin revolutionised the treatment of T1D, but has left the ongoing problem of controlling blood sugars. Because people with T1D cannot make enough insulin they must inject it, either several times a day or via a pump that delivers insulin under the skin continually. In...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.