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A Canadian research group last week reported it could fully regulate blood sugar levels in diabetic patients with the help of an improved version of a small pump now being used at the Medical School.
Dr. A.M. Albisser, director of biomedical research at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, told scientists last week at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science that a lighter and fully automated pump could normalize blood sugar levels at all times of the day by continuously injecting small doses of insulin into a large vein.
Dr. John L. Kitzmiller, assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, is currently using an earlier model of the pump known as Auto-Syringe for women in their first eight weeks of pregnancy. The pump prevents fluctuations in blood sugar levels from daily insulin injections.
Because of the pump's bulkiness, Kitzmiller's patients switch to the method of daily injections once they are past the eight-week mark, the period he says is most crucial to the child's development. However, he said Monday that not all diabetics require the Auto-Syringe's precise treatment. In addition, its eight ounces, constantly needed adjustments and $1100 price tag made it more impractical than regular insulin injections.
Although Kitzmiller sees no immediate use for the new technology in his research, the Canadian innovaters are optimistic about the future of their pumps. "Clinical and animal studies have demonstrated the feasibility of this approach to control blood sugar," Albisser said. "Furthermore, the metabolic response to physical exercise is significantly improved, and the risk of low blood sugar levels--an undesirable consequence of excess insulin--is minimized."
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