Latha Ramalingam researches fat cells and beta cells, their influence on diabetes
and obesity and the processes of and mechanisms underpinning insulin secretion.
The Food and Drug Administration recently approved an artificial pancreas system to
aid in treatment of people with Type 1 diabetes (T1D). More than 1 million Americans
have the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and
there is no known cure.
The artificial pancreas will monitor blood glucose levels and injects insulin into
the blood as needed instead of the patients manually checking and injecting themselves.
Latha Ramalingam, a research assistant professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Texas Tech University, is available to talk about the effect this approval may
have on diabetes treatment. She researches fat cells and beta cells, their influence
on diabetes and obesity and the processes of and mechanisms underpinning insulin secretion.
Short-term clinical trials conducted on an artificial pancreas showed better control
of blood glucose compared to manual insulin pumps and other interventions, especially
at night. Patients reported peaceful sleep because they could depend on technology.
Having an artificial pancreas also would remove some of the energy and mental fortitude
required for self-medication.
As with any new development, there are some concerns. A patient using an artificial
pancreas still would need to take an insulin injection before a meal because the time
required for the artificial organ to sense glucose is slower than the time for the
real pancreas to perform the same function. Consequently, insulin secretion would
be delayed in the case of the artificial pancreas.
The other issue she sees is the economy of the artificial pancreas. Reports at this
time suggest the cost to be between $6,000 and $9,000 per organ, which could put it
out of the reach of many people with diabetes. The price likely will drop over time,
however, as technology improves.
"Given its potential benefits and the very development of it through cutting-edge
science, the artificial pancreas is a major breakthrough. It seems to be a fascinating
development that despite some current shortcomings has immense potential to positively
impact treatment of Type 1 diabetes. Whether it will be a paradigm shifter, only time
will tell, but what is certain is it has ushered in a more patient-friendly, 'smart'
solution in keeping with the spirit of the times."
The College of Human Sciences at Texas Tech University provides multidisciplinary education, research and service
focused on individuals, families and their environments for the purpose of improving
and enhancing the human condition.
The college offers a Bachelor of Science degree with disciplines in:
Apparel Design and Manufacturing
Community, Family, and Addiction Services
Family and Consumer Sciences
Human Development and Family Studies
Personal Financial Planning
Restaurant, Hotel, and Institutional Management
The college also offers graduate programs leading to the Master of Science and Doctor
of Philosophy degrees.