Though those with Type 1 diabetes are a minority among diabetic patients, the nature of this condition, the young age of the patients and the need for constant blood sugar checks and insulin administration can make this condition extremely difficult for children and their patients. A new invention called the bionic pancreas, however, might well make Type 1 diabetes management less challenging and improve overall patient quality of life.

Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can be challenging conditions for those who suffer from them. However, there are particular challenges that are faced by Type 1 diabetics. Part of this stems from the nature of the disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder and has nothing to do with alterable lifestyle choices, as is often the case in Type 2 diabetes. The body's own immune system attacks the beta cells in the pancreas which produce the hormone insulin, needed to regulate blood sugar levels. The pancreas then can produce little or no insulin of its own. Because of this, Type 1 diabetic treatment has consisted of the use of insulin injections or an implanted insulin pump. Even with the injections or pump, however, unstable blood sugars can continue to be a challenge -- as well as a top reason for visits to the emergency room.

The Mayo Clinic also notes that another challenge of Type 1 diabetes is the young age of those who have this condition. It is often diagnosed in childhood or young adulthood and the need for constant finger sticks to check blood sugar levels, the discomfort of insulin injections or the difficulties in caring for an insulin pump can pose a particular problem for children and teens - as well as parents trying to care for them.

Enter the Bionic Pancreas, the recently invented product of a collaboration between Boston University and Massachusetts General Hospital. This small, implanted device is automated to check the blood sugar levels of diabetics every 5 minutes - without the use of a traditional finger stick. It then makes a decision about whether to administer insulin (to bring blood sugar levels down) or glucagon (a fast-acting sugar that the body uses to bring blood sugar levels back up if they are low). The result is a more regulated, less unstable blood sugar level and the avoidance of extreme highs and lows that can make Type 1 diabetes so hard to live with.

The Bionic Pancreas has moved from clinical trials and according to Web MD, it has performed well in "real life" studies. According to a new British study which studied the product in patients in a home-based setting, the artificial pancreas is able to improve glycemic control without causing episodes of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). The site notes that this new technology has the potential to greatly improve quality of life for those with Type 1 diabetes.

In short, while this condition will remain challenging to live with in absence of a cure, it still has the potential to revolutionize Type 1 diabetes care and make day-to-day management easier to achieve -- for patients of all ages.

Author's Bio: 

Brian Wu graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physiology and Neurobiology. Currently, he holds a PhD and is an MD candidate (KSOM, USC) in integrative biology and disease. He is also an experienced writer and editor for many prestigious web pages. Brian values the ability of all ages to learn from the power of stories. His mission is to write about health conditions, educational topics and life situations in an entertaining way in order to help children understand their own life conditions and daily circumstances.