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Moving towards a glucagon pump

14 June 2012

JDRF-funded researchers at Oregon Health and Science University have discovered a way to keep liquid glucagon stable so that it could be used in diabetes pumps.

The research which was led by Dr W Kenneth Ward was presented at the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) annual scientific meeting this week. Dr Ward and his team found that reducing the level of acid in the glucagon compound meant that it could be kept as a liquid for longer periods of time. At the moment, glucagon cannot be stored as a liquid and is kept as a powder which, when added to liquid needs to be used immediately.

This research could broaden the use of glucagon to treat hypoglycaemia and is an important step towards the development of a multi-hormone, automated artificial pancreas. Future generation artificial pancreas systems could act just like the body and be able to release glucagon as well as insulin to keep a tighter control on blood glucose levels.

Glucagon is a hormone that raises blood sugar levels and works together with insulin to fine tune blood glucose levels. Previous research has shown that insulin treatment together with glucagon reduces hypoglycaemia. 

Rachel Connor, Head of Research Communication at JDRF said, ‘JDRF are committed to developing the next generation multi-hormone artificial pancreas and for this we need stable liquid glucagon that can be used in a pump. Dr Ward’s research is an exciting step towards this goal.’

Read about more JDRF-funded research that has been presented this week at the ADA meeting on the JDRF US site

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