November is Diabetes awareness month, and to kick it off, I thought I would talk about some big things happening in the Diabetes world. Many advancements in technology and therapy have been made in the last few years, and in 2016 we have started to see a lot of things start to come together. Here are three of the biggest things I have heard about in the Diabetes world in 2016.
1. Medtronic's New Insulin Pump.
As a person who has used a Medtronic Minimed pump for the last 8 years, I was very excited when I saw that Medtronic has confirmed their new insulin pump, the 670G. I was even more excited to find out that it is the first closed loop system, or “artificial pancreas” to be approved by the FDA! This means that the pump will automatically monitor glucose levels in the body and provide appropriate basal insulin doses just like a natural pancreas would function. What makes this even more exciting, is that it does this with little to no input from the user themselves, leaving less room for mathematical errors that can lead to low or high blood sugars.
You can read more from the FDA’s press announcement here.
2. Generic Insulin?
If you have diabetes, or know someone who does, you’re probably familiar with the exorbitant costs of insulin, the hormone that all diabetic treatment/therapy centers around. Right now, the average monthly cost of insulin is $120-$400. Even though insulin has been around for almost 100 years, incremental technologic advancements in artificial insulin manufacturing have maintained the original patents that restrict the creation of a generic brand of insulin. However, those patents are due to be expiring soon, and there are trials currently underway for a generic brand of insulin glargine (often known as Lantus). Insulin glargine is a long acting insulin used in injection treatment of diabetes; insulin pump users only use short-acting insulin, while syringe users use both short- and long-acting.
You can read more about the history of insulin patents, and all the legal stuff here.
3. Cure Research and the BioHub
It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t mention anything about the process on a cure! The Diabetes Research Institute (DRI foundation) have already established a cell-based therapy that “works” by transplanting islet cells into the patient’s pancreas. This has met with some success in clinical trials to varying degrees. However, the DRI are also working on a “mini-organ” that mimics the natural pancreas. It contains thousands of insulin‐producing cells that sense blood sugar levels and release the precise amount of insulin needed - just like the closed loop system insulin pump tries to mimic.
I suggest you check out the DRI’s website here to find out more.
It’s amazing to see the advancements in diabetes treatment and research that have happened since I was diagnosed in 2008. I want to thank all of the people that have dedicated their life to finding a cure, improving technology, and making life easier for diabetics everywhere. I’m so excited to see where this research and these advancements take us!