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News round up 4 May 11

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about the use of an insulin pump to help control night time hypos so I am excited about some research funded by Diabetes UK, and supported by the Juvenile Diabetes Resarch Foundation (JDRF), which has for the first time successfully demonstrated the potential of an ‘artificial pancreas’ in preventing night-time hypoglycaemia in adults with Type 1 diabetes.

The ‘artificial pancreas’ or closed-loop insulin delivery system automatically manages a person’s diabetes. The device regulates blood glucose levels by releasing insulin when alerted to high levels of glucose, and withholding it when levels are low.

University of Cambridge researcher Dr Roman Hovorka led two studies to evaluate the performance of the artificial pancreas in 10 men and 14 women, aged 18 to 65, who used an insulin pump for at least three months.

The first study monitored 12 participants overnight after consuming a medium-sized meal (60g carbohydrate) at 7pm. In the second study, the other 12 participants were monitored overnight after consuming a larger meal (100g carbohydrate) accompanied by alcohol at 8.30pm.

The studies showed a 22 per cent improvement in the time participants kept their blood glucose levels in a safe range, halving the time they spent with low blood glucose levels and reducing the risk of both short-term and long-term complications.

Dr Roman Hovorka said: “Hypoglycaemia remains a major challenge, especially during the night, so it’s encouraging to see such promising results from our trial using commercially available devices.
“The study is a stepping stone to testing the artificial pancreas at home and suggests that the artificial pancreas may be suitable in adults as well as in children and adolescents we found previously”.

Continuing the night time theme, Diabetics are generally known to have worse sleep patterns than non-diabetics, and poor sleep has even been blamed as a potential risk factor for developing the diabetes. Research into the link between diabetes and sleep patterns has revealed that people who suffer from the metabolic condition and who don’t sleep well have higher insulin resistance, and also find it more difficult to manage their diabetes.

The study, published in Diabetes Care, assessed the sleep of 40 people with type 2 diabetes over six nights, checking if they were suffering any problems with their sleep, such as insomnia, sleep apnea or snoring . They also provided blood samples so the researchers could analyse insulin and glucose levels. It was found that the diabetics who were also poor sleepers had 23 per cent higher levels of blood glucose in the morning, as well as 48 per cent higher levels of blood insulin. For insulin resistance, these figures meant that poor sleepers with diabetes had 82 per cent higher insulin resistance than normal sleepers with diabetes.

Eve Van Cauter, co-author of the study, also said “This suggests that improving sleep quality in diabetics would have a similar beneficial effect as the most commonly used anti-diabetes drugs.”

Until next time
xx