The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Local News

November 15, 2013

New device could signal breakthrough in diabetes treatment

PETERSBURG, Ind. — At 10 a.m. Wednesday, Fran Lewis of Petersburg became the first person in Indiana to receive an artificial pancreas.

"It's like I have my pancreas in my pocket," she said excitedly from the Downtown Deaconess Clinic of her new insulin pump and sensor that incorporates technology just-approved by the FDA.

The device — a Medtronic MiniMed 530G with Enlite, is the first system in the U.S. that will automatically stop insulin delivery when the sensor detects glucose levels that are too low and the patient doesn't respond to the threshold suspend alarm, said Ann Freyberger, RD, CDE and senior diabetes clinical manager for Medtronic. The device is the company's "most accurate and comfortable continuous glucose sensor with a 31 percent improvement in overall accuracy from the previous generation."

The FDA created a new category for the device — artificial pancreas device system.

"This will provide patients with a sense of security," Freyberger said. "Seventy percent of low blood sugars occur overnight and many sleep through those lows. Sometimes they may wake up soaked in sweat or their partner or spouse will find them seizing."

But with the new technology just approved in September, the pump will stop delivering insulin if those levels reach the low threshold set on the device by the physician.

"This technology is important because we are one step closer to a closed loop system and finding the cure for Type 1 diabetes," Freyberger said. The next step will be a pump that not only can respond to levels of sugar that are too high by delivering insulin but it will also respond and treat levels that are too low.

Lewis, who is also president of the Petersburg Town Council, was diagnosed as a Type 1 Diabetic at age 42. She described herself as a "very brittle diabetic" saying that because she is so small even the smallest amount of insulin greatly affects her. Lewis has been using an insulin pump for about 12 years.

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