I've been interviewed for the artificial pancreas!


Exactly a week ago, I went to a research center in Montreal because I wanted to help with a study related to the artificial pancreas. There is a research going on here where an endocrinologist and his team are currently testing two configurations of the artificial pancreas. ''The first device infuses insulin, and the second infuses both insulin and glucagon (a hormone that can help raise blood sugar). While the artificial pancreas (the Medtronic System) has already been launched in the United States, Dr. Rabasa-Lhoret’s research team is going one step further as one of the first in the world to develop a dual hormone system.'' (to see the full article on the JDRF’s website, click on this link: ( https://www.jdrf.ca/t1dhub/learn/t1d-insider/research-overview-with-dr-rabasa-lhoret/)

How did I end up helping this research? Well, I found a survey on Facebook helping the researchers with the esthetic part of the artificial pancreas (its image towards others, its size), as well as the features that I would like to have in it. When the survey was completed, they asked if I would be interested in doing an hour interview in person to help the research with more personal questions and of course I clicked on YES!!

So as I was saying, last week I met with a student doing her master’s degree on the artificial pancreas. We went in a room and we started the interview while I was recorded. I felt like a star for 2 minutes!! First, I talked about my history with diabetes, my management, the medication that I take and the tools that I use. To be honest, I was still confused about WHAT is going to be the artificial pancreas. Is it going to be a look-alike pump, a software, a transmitter? Are we going to need 2 machines since they’re working on an artificial pancreas with insulin AND glucagon (that would be awesome). So, of course, I asked the girl and she told me that they still don’t know how it will look like and that’s what the research is for. It might be a software on the phone connected to a pump and a continuous glucose monitor, and being able to calculate the insulin needed with the readings AND injecting it by itself without any human control. To be continued!

You’re probably thinking: well if it’s connected to a pump, how will it shoot glucagon? Again, I asked that question because I can’t keep questions in mind, and the interviewer told me that they still don’t have an answer for that and the research is based on finding a solution for this problem. It’s hard because they still don’t know the long-term effects of glucagon on the body. I also read elsewhere that since glucagon is found in a powder form for the moment, it’s hard to know if it can be produced in a liquid form. 


Then the interviewer asked me which features I would like to have in the artificial pancreas. Here were my answers: I proposed that it would be light, thin, and preferably with a touch screen and without any tubing. I then told her that the artificial pancreas with the 2 configurations would reallllly change my quality of life. I was talking about myself but I am pretty sure that the majority of T1s would say the same thing! It will be so helpful at night, while driving, exercising, and the list can go on and on. We wouldn’t have to stop what we’re doing to drink juice because of a hypo. We wouldn’t have to try to bring down a high by shooting insulin when it’s already too late and our BG level is already too high. Can you just imagine?! So many fewer worries during the day AND night. We would be able to focus on other things without having diabetes on our mind 24/7.

The thing is, even if I am so excited about this new upcoming machine and that I know it will change my quality of life, I am still a little skeptical about it. Why? Well for one, I don’t fully trust machines. As much as I love my pump, it let me down a couple of times before and this new machine can do the same. Only this time if something goes wrong, it can be even more dangerous with insulin and glucagon shooting without asking. I told the interviewer that I need to be a 10000% sure that the machine is safe before I start using it when it will be on the market (and hopefully affordable). There’s also the control side of it. It’s weird, but I told her that I wouldn’t let it control my diabetes at a 100%. Maybe it’s because I’ve had diabetes for such a long time, but I still need to feel like I control my diabetes, it’s like it’s a part of me.

The big question is: when will this wonderful little machine be available? Unfortunately, she couldn’t give me a clear answer since they’re still doing studies and researches, but in my opinion and from what I read, I think it will be on the market 2 years from now (hopefully!). I asked to receive news on every step of the study by email, and of course, I will keep you posted every time I read or receive something new! 

I hope you liked this blog post diabudies!

- Judy