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4 Prospective Treatments and Solutions to Diabetes Management

Managing diabetes via smartphone

Medical innovations make it easier for consumers living with diabetes to manage symptoms. Researchers hope to find a cure one day, but until then medical engineers continue to develop innovative tools that help consumers manage diabetes. Although consumers must remain vigilant, medical engineers create more resources and tools for managing diabetes every year.

To avoid insensitive comments or jokes, some persons may choose to ignore the disease; understanding and support, on the other hand, will be greatly appreciated. Since persons with exemplary life style habits still may develop diabetes, it is inaccurate to assume that the condition is self-inflicted. Furthermore, disease management proves to be a smoother process for some than for others.

Proper diet and insulin use go a long way toward maintaining a comfortable, normal life. However, even with these healthy habits, the disease may progress.

Diabetes Basics

Consumers afflicted with Type 1 diabetes do not produce enough insulin, while those who suffer from Type 2 diabetes do not produce any insulin, or their bodies do not use the compound efficiently. [2] Statistics reported by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) reveal that nearly 10 percent of the population suffers from the condition, and a third of those individuals are not aware they have contracted the disease. [3] Over 200,000 individuals diagnosed with the condition are younger than 20 years old, and a third of all senior citizens contract diabetes. While these statistics are formidable, the following innovations may provide relief for those diagnosed with diabetes.

Artificial Pancreas

Researchers have developed a new “synthetic pancreas” to assist consumers afflicted with Type 1 diabetes. [4] Currently, implanted insulin pumps are in use to provide an appropriate amount of insulin slowly, based on the blood glucose level which the patient measures and records before each meal. The proposed new system monitors blood sugar continuously (via an implanted sensor) and can directly control the insulin dose as well as alert the patient when the blood sugar exceeds low or high parameters.

Scientists have worked on this and similar projects for many years. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only recently approved fully autonomous pancreas for use by consumers over the age of 14. Many insulin pumps exist, but there are few “artificial pancreases.” These advanced devices will assist Type 1 diabetes sufferers in managing their symptoms.

Gamification

Dr. Jennifer Dryer of Central Ohio Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes Services believes she may have developed an engaging mobile application to assist diabetes sufferers in maintaining their treatment regimens. [5] The app, temporarily named COPEDS Black Belt, does not attempt to track glucose levels. It does, however, encourage juvenile diabetes patients to maintain their health.

Gamers must check their blood sugar four times each day for two weeks to advance to the next belt and can earn the title of “black belt ninja of diabetes” after 90 days. In addition to encouraging healthy habits among juvenile diabetes patients, the app sends patient progress their physician for review.

Pocket-Sized Technology

The health firm DietSensor has engineered a small, groundbreaking device and separate mobile app to help users track food consumption. [6] The handheld device, called SCiO, uses a molecular sensor that analyzes foods and beverages. The inventor, Remy Bonnasse, conceived the idea along with his wife when physicians diagnosed their 9-year-old daughter with Type 1 diabetes.

Consumers use the handheld device by snapping a picture of a food item. The device then reports the nutritional content of the recorded food. The app is currently available from the Apple App Store, Google Play, and consumers can purchase SCiO, and other devices, from the DietSensor website.

Digital Tattoos

To free diabetes sufferers from regular skin pricks, scientists have created a skin patch that detects excess glucose levels in perspiration and then administers insulin accordingly. [7] This same research group developed a similar technology to manage Parkinson’s disease.

The nanotechnology-embedded paper senses glucose level, humidity, pH balance, and temperature. When the device senses a high glucose level, it administers insulin through nanoneedles.

Other solutions can either monitor glucose levels or deliver insulin, but they cannot perform both functions. The flexible, tattoo-like device is only the second such endeavor approved by the FDA, with the first attempt at an autonomous solution failing due to user discomfort.

Interconnected Insulin Pumps and Sensors

A group of researchers hopes to cure diabetes permanently. [8] In fact, MIT scientists have already succeeded in eradicating the disease in mice, but have not reached a stage where they can perform tests on human subjects. Their research involves the cells that regulate insulin in the pancreas. The immune system destroys these cells in consumers who suffer from Type 1 diabetes.

The researchers have developed a gelatinous compound that hides the cells from the immune system. In effect, the substance makes the insulin producing cells invisible to the immune system; however, healthy cells can continue to function normally and produce the insulin that the body needs for regulating blood sugar levels.

These and similar devices make it easier for consumers to manage diabetes symptoms. [1] While diabetes patients welcome this assistance, they hope for a cure in the near future. The path to a cure might begin with educating more citizens about the condition, which could lead to more support in finding a permanent cure.

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Sources:

[1] https://www.diabetesdaily.com/blog/what-it-feels-like-to-live-with-diabetes-304735/#

[2] https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes

[3] http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/

[4] http://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes-artificial-pancreas#overview1

[5] http://www.healthline.com/diabetesmine/diabetes-ninja-app-gamification#2

[6] http://www.healthline.com/diabetesmine/diabetes-ces-2016#6

[7] https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601064/controlling-diabetes-with-a-skin-patch/

[8] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-diabetes-research-idUSKCN0VJ2MN
[8] http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/874133?src=ppc_google_rsla_ref_kw_&gclid=Cj0KEQjw9YTJBRD0vKClruOsuOwBEiQAGkQjP0w6ySQ4WPiKeGmwDo_o3GFxGT-YIE64Myo9Gz4bd2saAug78P8HAQ