Artificial pancreas trialled for outpatients with type 2 diabetes for first time

An artificial pancreas could soon help those people living with type 2 diabetes who also require kidney dialysis. Tests led by the University of Cambridge and Inselspital, University Hospital of Bern, Switzerland, show that the device can help patients safely and effectively manage their blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of low blood sugar levels.

  Patient using the artificial pancreas  Credit: University of Cambridge

Diabetes is the most common cause of kidney failure, accounting for just under a third (30%) of cases. As the number of people living with type 2 diabetes increases, so too does the number of people requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant. Kidney failure increases the risk of hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia – abnormally low or high levels of blood sugar respectively – which in turn can cause complications from dizziness to falls and even to coma.

Managing diabetes in patients with kidney failure is challenging for both patients and healthcare professionals. Many aspects of their care are poorly understood, including targets for blood sugar levels and treatments. Most oral diabetes medications are not recommended for these patients, so insulin injections are the most commonly used diabetes therapy – though optimal insulin dosing regimens are difficult to establish.

A team at the University of Cambridge and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has previously developed an artificial pancreas with the aim of replacing insulin injections for patients living with type 1 diabetes. In research published in Nature Medicine, the team – working with researchers at Bern University Hospital and University of Bern, Switzerland – has shown that the device can be used to support patients living with both type 2 diabetes and kidney failure.

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Image: Patient using the artificial pancreas

Credit: University of Cambridge

Reproduced courtesy of the University of Cambridge

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