Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Breakthrough in Creating Artificial Pancreas

System Allows for Continuous Monitoring of Blood Sugar at Night
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Feb. 4, 2010 - It has been called the Holy Grail of treatment for insulin-dependent diabetes, and it may be close to reality.

For decades, researchers have searched unsuccessfully for ways to automatically coordinate insulin delivery with real-time changes in blood sugar to essentially create an artificial pancreas that maintains target blood sugar levels with minimal effort.

Now new technology is making this possible, and new research shows that an experimental system can improve nighttime blood sugar control.

Using sophisticated computer software, researchers were able to coordinate the actions of a commercially available continuous glucose monitoring device and insulin pump to allow automatic insulin delivery in response to real-time glucose readings.

The system proved better than a conventional insulin pump for maintaining optimal blood sugar levels during the night in a study from the U.K.'s University of Cambridge.

Aaron J. Kowalski, PhD, of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which was involved in funding the research, says the study represents an important step forward in the search for a clinically feasible artificial pancreas to improve outcomes and quality of life among insulin-dependent diabetes patients.

"This is hugely promising and very significant research," he tells WebMD. "Nighttime is the time of day that strikes fear into patients and parents of children with diabetes."

Nighttime Risk: Low Blood Sugar

That’s because blood sugar levels can fall to dangerously low levels during sleep, especially in people who maintain very tight control of their blood sugar with insulin during the day.

Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, can result in seizures and even sudden death.

Kowalski speaks about the issue from personal experience. Growing up, he shared a bedroom with a brother with type 1 diabetes.

“[My brother’s] blood sugar would tend to get very low at night, especially when he exercised, Kowalski says. “He would have seizures and he ended up having to go to the hospital more than a few times.”

The newly published study included 19 children and teens with type 1 diabetes who used the artificial pancreas system for 33 nights and a conventional insulin pump for 21 nights in a hospital setting.

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
kenneth fujioka, md
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Middle aged person
jennie brand miller

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
type 2 diabetes
food fitness planner