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Artificial Pancreas: New technology revolutionizes diabetes treatment for patient

(Saint John) February 11, 2019 - Horizon Health Network (Horizon) patient Alicia Hunt is one of the first Atlantic Canadians to begin using new insulin pump technology that will allow her to have more freedom and regulate the highs and lows that come with her type 1 diabetes.

The new technology, commonly referred to as the artificial pancreas, was approved by Health Canada in the fall of 2018 and is the first insulin pump to support closed-loop functionality for basal insulin. For diabetics who use a pump or are taking multiple injections a day, this technology will revolutionize the way they manage their care.

The pump is a small device worn on the outside of the body and is connected by radio frequency to a glucose sensor. The sensor is inserted on top of the skin every six days to measure glucose levels.

"I was hopeful and dreamed the artificial pancreas would be here in our lifetime," says Dr. John Dornan, Horizon Chief of Staff and endocrinologist. "Now it's here and it's one of the revolutionary changes in diabetes care. In my career, this will be one of the biggest things I see."

The pancreas of a type 1 diabetic stops producing insulin, requiring them to test their blood sugar and give themselves insulin through injections or a pump on multiple occasions every day. The Medtronic MiniMed 670G Insulin Pump System is the first self-adjusting insulin pump to be licensed in Canada, and gives users the functions of a healthy pancreas.

"The new pump has been an incredible experience," says Alicia. "I had my reservations at first, but this pump has been able to accomplish what my health care team and I have been trying to do for decades; keep me stable and in a healthy, safe range."

This new technology mimics some of the functions of a healthy pancreas by providing two new levels of automated insulin delivery. The system automatically adjusts basal levels insulin every five minutes, allowing the user to stay in range and focus on what really matters to them. 

"We are working every day to get to as close to a healthy normal pancreas as we can," says Dr. Dornan. "The biggest value of this piece of technology is to cut down on the complications of diabetes."

Limiting complications for a type 1 diabetic will reduce the number of hospital visits for patients and will provide them with some relief from the constant monitoring their disease requires.

For Alicia, the new technology will give her some reprieve from the constant worry and allow her to focus more on the things she loves, like being a mom, instead of continuously monitoring her glucose levels.

Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented and there is currently no cure. Over 300,000 Canadians live with type 1 diabetes. In New Brunswick approximately 93,000 people have diabetes, with 5-10 per cent of those people having type 1 diabetes. Eventually, this technology will be considered in Type II diabetes.

Find out more in the video at  

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For more information contact:

Emely Poitras
Media Relations

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