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ADVANCED TECHNOLOGIES IN THE TREATMENT OF DIABETES
Mccall A. L., Farhy L. S.
Department of Medicine and Center for Diabetes Technology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA
Type 1 diabetes is a disorder where slow destruction of pancreatic β-cells occurs through autoimmune mechanisms. The result is a progressive and ultimately complete lack of endogenous insulin. Due to β-cell lack, secondary abnormalities in glucagon and likely in incretins occur. These multiple hormonal abnormalities cause metabolic instability and extreme glycemic variability, which is the primary phenotype. As the disease progresses patients often develop hypoglycemia unawareness and defects in their counterregulatory defenses. Intensive insulin therapy may thus lead to 3-fold excess of severe hypoglycemia and severely hinder the effective and safe control of hyperglycemia. The main goal of the therapy for type 1 diabetes has long been physiological mimicry of normal insulin secretion based on monitoring which requires considerable effort and understanding of the underlying physiology. Attainment of this goal is challenged by the nature of the disease and our current lack of means to fully repair the abnormal endocrine pancreas interactive functions. As a result, various insulin preparations have been developed to partially compensate for the inability to deliver timely exogenous insulin directly to the portal/intrapancreatic circulation. It remains an ongoing task to identify the ideal routes and regimens of their delivery and potentially that of other hormones to restore the deficient and disordered hormonal environment of the pancreas to achieve a near normal metabolic state. Several recent technological advances help addressing these goals, including the rapid progress in insulin pumps, continuous glucose sensors, and ultimately the artificial pancreas closed-loop technology and the recent start of dual-hormone therapies.