A new study shows promise in future diabetes cure. Researchers have developed a functional artificial pancreas system that worked well in real-world clinical trials. This study will open doors to innovative technology in the treatment of pancreas-related diseases.

The researchers combined artificial pancreas technology and transplantation of islets cells, the basic working unit of the pancreas responsible for producing insulin. In people with diabetes, the pancreas is not producing enough insulin or nothing at all, as in the case of Type 1 diabetes.

"Use of the mechanical artificial pancreas in patients after islet transplantation may help the transplanted cells to survive longer and produce more insulin for longer," said Dr. Gregory Forlenza, lead author of the study and pediatric endocrinologist at the Children's Hospital in Colorado.

For the study, published in the journal American Journal of Transplantation, 14 patients with pancreatitis underwent surgery to transplant an artificial pancreas or receive auto-islet transplants. They found that the use of a close-looped insulin pump was better than relying on daily insulin injections for blood glucose level maintenance because the internal insulin pump depends on the 'continuous feedback information' of the body's blood sugar level measurements.

"It is our hope that combining these technologies will aid a wide spectrum of patients including patients with diabetes, in the future," the authors said.

Diabetes is a condition wherein there is not enough insulin in the body which is normally produced by the pancreas. Insulin carries glucose to the cells of the body which uses it for energy. When insulin is not enough or not present, the cells have no access to glucose for energy and glucose will stay circulating in the blood. Thus, increased blood sugar occurs.

In 2012, an estimated 29.1 million Americans, or 9.3% of the population, had diabetes. However, out of this number, around 8.1 million people do not know that they have the disease.

In 2010, diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death among Americans. Around 1.25 million children and adults in the United States also have Type 1 diabetes, a condition wherein the pancreas cannot produce any insulin. As such, multiple insulin injections are needed throughout the day.

If left untreated, life threatening complications may emerge like hypoglycemia, heart attack, dyslipidemia, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, vision loss, kidney disease and amputations.

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