21 New Positive Swine Flu Cases Reported in Rajasthan In Last 7 Days

 

21 New Positive Swine Flu Cases Reported in Rajasthan In Last 7 Days21 New Positive Swine Flu Cases Reported in Rajasthan In Last 7 Days

JAIPUR:  As many as 21 new positive cases of swine flu have been reported in Rajasthan in the last seven days, taking the total number of people suffering from the highly contagious H1N1 virus to 38 this year, officials said today.

"These 21 cases have been reported in the period from January 6 to January 12. Since the start of this year, five people have died due to the virus in the state," a medical and health department official told IANS.

Of these five deaths, two were reported from Jaipur and one each from Sikar, Kota and Churu.

Of the 38 cases, the maximum 22 cases were reported from Jaipur, followed by six from Kota and three from Sikar and the rest from other places.

In 2015, over 6,800 swine flu cases were reported, and 468 people died.

Besides educating people about swine flu through posters, banners and advertisements, the state government has also decided to conduct blood and other diagnostic tests on patients showing signs of swine flu.

"We have decided to undertake a survey of at least 50 houses situated near houses where positive cases of swine flu have been reported," the official said.

For providing early relief to patients, rapid response teams are also being set up.

Government hospitals have been asked to keep full stock of medicines for H1N1.

New Mexico Health Dept. Reports on Completion of Active Ebola Virus Disease Monitoring

The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) reports that as part of its Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) response plan, it has completed active monitoring of travelers returning to New Mexico from countries in West Africa that were part of the largest EVD epidemic in history. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says Ebola virus transmission has ceased in West Africa and therefore it is no longer necessary to actively monitor travelers. 

EVD is a rare and deadly hemorrhagic (bleeding) disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus species that can cause disease in humans. Ebola virus was discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It affected multiple countries at that time.

The largest EVD outbreak in history began in West Africa in March 2014. The vast majority of cases and deaths occurred in three West African countries: Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. During this outbreak, other countries had locally acquired or imported Ebola cases (i.e., Nigeria, Senegal, Spain, United States, Mali, United Kingdom, and Italy).

During this epidemic, the CDC developed and periodically updated guidance for monitoring people potentially exposed to Ebola virus, and for evaluating any travel they intended, including applying movement restrictions when indicated. NMDOH applied the CDC guidelines and monitored returning travelers from Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and Mali from October 2014 through December 2015.

NMDOH’s procedures included contacting the returning traveler by the time they arrived in New Mexico to make them aware of state procedures, verifying the accuracy of the information received upon entry into the US, conducting a standardized interview to determine their risk category, and initiating 21 days of monitoring, the longest amount of time it could take for a person exposed to Ebola virus disease to become sick themselves. During monitoring, all individuals recorded their symptoms and temperatures twice a day and reported them every day to NMDOH. A 24/7 system was in place so that if an individual being monitored became ill, they could contact NMDOH and arrange for rapid and appropriate medical evaluation. Systems were in place to protect the person being monitored, healthcare personnel who might come in contact with that person, and the public.

NMDOH monitored 86 returning travelers, none of whom developed signs or symptoms suggestive of EVD. None of the monitored returning travelers required laboratory testing for EVD.

On average, NMDOH monitored about six returning travelers per month: 30 from Sierra Leone, 28 from Liberia, 25 from Guinea, and three from Mali. More than 70 percent of travelers arriving in New Mexico were US citizens returning home. Almost 60 percent of travelers were US government employees or government contractors assigned to perform various duties related to the EVD epidemic response. A small number (10 percent) were medical volunteers. Of the travelers who were residents of West Africa, more than 70 percent were Guineans. The majority of travelers (91 percent) were categorized as low risk and the remainder were classified as some risk. There were no travelers considered high risk.

As of January 3, 2016 the World Health Organization (WHO) reported a total number of 28,637 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of EVD, and 11,315 deaths. The West African countries involved in this outbreak may continue to experience cases or clusters of individuals with EVD related to re-emergence of Ebola virus that persists in previously infected persons. The West African governments, with support from partners including WHO and US CDC, have services and systems in place to prevent and identify transmission of EVD.

The NMDOH monitoring system worked well and accomplished its intended purpose to monitor returning travelers for illness that might represent Ebola virus disease, to assess and test any traveler for EVD if indicated, and to protect the public from exposure to any potential EVD. The Department continues to closely follow all EVD activity in West Africa, and to work with partners statewide on EVD preparedness. Lessons learned are being applied more broadly to prevention, detection, treatment and control of other emerging infectious diseases of importance to the health of the public.

Regular tea consumption loosens arteries to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease

Regular tea consumption loosens arteries to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease

New research has shown that regular tea consumption can protect against arterial stiffness in the heart - a condition that’s been linked to a shortened lifespan and higher risk of cardiovascular disease. 

The study, which looked at habitual and non-habitual tea-drinkers in China, found that those who have been drinking tea regularly for six years or more had the lowest levels of arterial wall thickening and loss of elasticity, and adds to a growing body of evidence that tea consumption is likely doing great things for your heart health.

The team of medical doctors, led by cardiologist Qing-fei Lin from Wuyishan Municipal Hospital in China, surveyed 5,006 male and female people aged 40 to 75 in the local Fujian Province. Of those, 1,564 (31.2 percent) said they were habitual tea-drinkers - defined in the study as having consumed tea once or more per week for at least 12 months.

The subjects were split into four sub-groups: those who have been consuming tea habitually for more than 10 years; habitual tea-drinkers with 6-10 years under their belt; habitual tea-drinkers for 1-5 years; and non-habitual tea-drinkers. 

The researchers measured the brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (ba-PWV) of their subjects to determine arterial stiffness in both the aorta and peripheral artery of the heart. After adjusting for various lifestyle factors, they found that as the duration and the daily amount of habitual tea consumption increased, the average ba-PWV decreased, which means lower arterial stiffness. 

Characterised by arterial wall thickening and loss of elasticity in both structural and cellular elements of the heart, arterial stiffness has been shown to be a predictor of total mortality and future cardiovascular disease, including heart failure and stroke. You want your arteries to be as flexible as possible to allow for easier blood flow so your heart doesn’t have to work so hard.

"Habitual tea consumption may have a protective effect against arterial stiffness, especially for subjects who have habitually consumed tea for more than six years and more than 10 grams daily," the team concludes in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

The researchers suspect that the protective effect is due to a chemical reaction that occurs in the endothelial cells inside our arteries when they come into contact with chemicals called catechins - a kind of flavonoid - that are found abundantly in tea (green tea in particular).

"Flavonoids in tea are helpful to relax the blood vessels," Stephen Devries, a preventive cardiologist at Northwestern University, told Deena Shanker at Quartz. "Catechins release nitrous oxide and cause [arteries] to be more compliant."

While the study, which has been published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, is limited by the fact that it relies on self-reporting participants to be truthful about their tea consumption history, and focusses only on participants living in a particular region of China, the results reflect what’s been found in previous studies from around the world.

"What may have a benefit in one population may not in another population," cardiologist Angela Taylor from the University of Virginia Health System told Shanker. "But studies with tea have been done in almost every ethnic background I can think of."

Back in early 2014, Taiwanese researchers reported in PLOS ONE that drinking a cup of tea per day for one year or more is likely to decrease arterial stiffness, and a 2013 study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that regular tea consumption could lower your risk of stroke. A separate 2007 study by US researchers found that tea-based catechins can improve cardiac structure in as little as 2 hours.

More recently, a meta-analysis of 24 studies on 856,206 individuals published in the European Journal of Epidemiology last year concluded, "increased tea consumption is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease, cardiac death, stroke, cerebral infarction, and intracerebral haemorrhage, as well as total mortality". 

There's still a whole lot we don't know about how different types of flavonoids in the things we eat and drink are affecting our health, but research is showing that a cup of tea or two per week week is a pretty good bet if you want to do something healthy for your heart. 

Pre-pregnancy potato consumption linked to gestational diabetes

Pre-pregnancy potato consumption linked to gestational diabetes

Women who eat more potatoes before pregnancy may be at a higher risk of gestational diabetes - the form that occurs during pregnancy - compared to women who consume fewer potatoes, a new study says.

The researchers suggested that substituting potatoes with other vegetables, legumes or whole grains may help lower gestational diabetes risk.

Gestational diabetes is a common pregnancy complication that causes high blood sugar levels in the mother and the disorder can lead to future health problems for both mother and child.

The researchers from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Harvard University evaluated more than 15,000 women from 1991 to 2001 who had no history of illness before pregnancy and had no gestational diabetes before.

Every four years, the women filled out a questionnaire on the kinds of foods they had eaten during the previous year. For potatoes, the women were asked if they had consumed baked, boiled, or mashed potatoes, fries or potato chips.

The researchers found that women who ate more potatoes had a higher risk of gestational diabetes.

A revolutionary blood test that can detect cancer

A revolutionary blood test that can detect cancer

Cancer cells

Dr. Victor Velculescu envisions a day — not so far off — when screening for cancer will become as simple as a blood test during your annual physical.

Unique cancer mutations show up in microscopic fragments of DNA in a patient's blood, which can give physicians a telltale sign of the presence of the disease in almost all types of cancer mutations — within cells or floating freely in the bloodstream.

The "liquid biopsies," as the tests are known, have become something of a Holy Grail in cancer treatment among physicians, researchers and companies betting big on the technology. Liquid biopsies — unlike traditional biopsies involving invasive surgery — rely on an ordinary blood draw. Advances in sequencing the human genome, enabling researchers to detect genetic mutations of cancers, have made the tests possible.

"It is revolutionary," said Velculescu, the co-director of cancer biology and professor of oncology and pathology at the Johns Hopkins University Kimmel Cancer Center. "I think in the next, let's say, five years, it'll become part of an annual physical."

That could lead to early detection of cancers, said Velculescu, who, along with colleagues at Hopkins, has studied liquid biopsies in hundreds of patients with lung, breast, colon, pancreatic and ovarian cancers.

"Early detection has exciting possibilities because it allows us to imagine getting cancers at the time at which they could still be taken out surgically," Velculescu noted. "It allows us to think about using therapies that'll be more effective, because they'll be applied earlier on in the disease — with all sorts of improvements in the overall outcome, survival and morbidity or how patients do — just based on detecting the cancer earlier."

The liquid biopsies are already being used commercially on a limited basis, though mainly in patients with Stage 3 or Stage 4 cancers, to help determine how well treatment is working.

An exciting medical breakthrough

As recently as a few years ago, the liquid biopsies were rarely used except in research. Today, thousands of the tests are being used in clinical practices in the United States and abroad, including at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston; the University of California, San Diego; the University of California, San Francisco; the Duke Cancer Institute and numerous other cancer centers.

And Silicon Valley venture firms like Sequoia Capital, New Enterprise Associates and Khosla Ventures have invested tens of millions of dollars in the technology. That's because the market potential is huge.

Velculescu and fellow Hopkins researcher Luis Diaz have co-founded Baltimore-based Personal Genome Diagnostics to develop the tests. PGD raised $21 million in October from New Enterprise Associates, a venture capitalist firm in Menlo Park, California.

On Sunday, Illumina announced the formation of a new company, called GRAIL, which will focus on blood-based cancer screening. The company is majority owned by Illumina and funded by more than $100 million in Series A financing from Illumina and ARCH Venture Partners, with participating investments from Bezos Expeditions and Sutter Hill Ventures.

DNA Sequencing Company Wants to Develop a Cancer Blood Test

One of the early pioneers in mapping our DNA is hoping to turn its genetic know-how into the first blood test for picking up early signs of cancer

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Illumina, which dominates the DNA sequencing world, is dipping a very big toe into cancer testing. The California-based company has raised $100 million in venture capital funds to try to turn the dream that cancer experts have of using a few drops of blood to detect the first signs of cancer into reality.

The biggest obstacle to that effort is the fact that, by its nature, cancer cells are the body’s own tissues. They’re just cells that have started to grow abnormally and out of control. That means that targeting them exclusively is nearly impossible. Almost every cancer treatment to date comes with collateral damage, from chemotherapy to radiation. The targeted drugs that zero in on tumor-specific markers are a new development, but there’s evidence that tumors can learn to mutate their way around them by becoming resistant to the drugs.

Illumina’s new company, dubbed Grail, is hoping to capitalize on the growing knowledge of what distinguishes cancer cells from normal cells, and finding these signals in the blood. Some researchers have been investigating so-called circulating tumor cells, or snippets of tumors that break off of cancers and travel through the bloodstream, but they’re still in the development stages.

Grail is focusing on a much earlier time in the cancer’s history—even before a mass forms. The idea is to look for cancer specific DNA signals that can alert doctors to the beginning stages of the disease.

It’s not clear yet that such distinct fragments of DNA even exist, since every normal and healthy cell develops mutations every time it divides—not all of these aberrations are cancerous, or even meaningful. So it’s not obvious that it would even be possible to look for, much less find, such DNA signals.

 

But with more sophisticated sequencing machines coming on line, and with deeper understanding of what distinguishes cancer cells from normal ones, Grail’s approach may be a harbinger of a the next generation of cancer screening.

International Textbook of Diabetes Mellitus

Impaired glucose regulation (impaired glucose tolerance and impaired fasting glycemia)

Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and impaired fasting glycemia (IFG) are categorized as stages in the natural history of disordered carbohydrate metabolism. They occur in all individuals as they progress from normal to diabetes, but since the transition through these states is rapid in type 1 diabetes, they are rarely identified in such individuals. Therefore, nearly all of the literature dealing with IGT and IFG is concerned with issues relating to type 2 diabetes, such as risk of developing type 2 diabetes and CVD.

IFG and IGT represent ametabolic state intermediate between normal glucose homeostasis and diabetes. The pathophysiologic aspects of hyperglycemia of each category are somewhat different. IGT is associated with muscle and liver insulin resistance and thus IGT is often associated with the metabolic or insulin resistance syndrome [7], while IFG is usually related to insulin secretory deficits.

A meta-analysis suggested that there is a positive relationship between IFG/IGT and diabetes which varies across ethnicity and age [83]. This study showed that individuals with combined IGT and IFG had the highest risk of future diabetes. In terms of sensitivity and specificity for the subsequent development of diabetes, the sensitivity of IFG as originally defined at 6.1 mmol L−1 (110mg dL−1) is less than that of IGT in most populations [84], but the specificity of IFG is greater [85]. IGT is more common than IFG using 6.1mmol L−1 (110mg dL−1) in most populations but it should be noted that the sensitivity and specificity of both IGT and IFG is entirely dependent on the cutpoints selected, and not on any inherent differences between FPG and 2hPG [86]. If IGT and IFG are defined such that they have similar prevalence to each other, they then have the same predictive values for subsequent diabetes [86]. Further, with the ADA cutpoint of IFG (5.6mmol L−1 or 100mg dL−1—see later), the sensitivity of IFG is similar to IGT, but the specificity falls.

Thus, neither the risk of developing diabetes nor the sensitivity and specificity for future diabetes seem to differ enough between IGT and IFG to suggest one category is more useful than the other. In reality, in most populations IGT is more prevalent than IFG (if IFG is defined as FPG of 6.1–6.9 mmol L−1 (110–125mg dL−1)), and thus it identifies a greater proportion of those who will develop diabetes. Furthermore, although at the lower cutpoint of IFG of FPG 5.6–6.9 mmol L−1 (100–125mg dL−1), the prevalence of IFG approaches that of IGT, the two groups remain limited in their overlap. Relying on only a FPG will not identify the same proportion of individuals at risk compared to undertaking an OGTT.

The relationship between IGT and IFG and CVD is well studied in meta-analyses. In a review of the evidence from 27 studies [87], IFG (at both cutpoints) and IGT were both associated with a significantly increased risk of approximately 20% of CVD.

Diagnosis of IGT and IFG categories has been traditionally made by measuring blood glucose levels, either in the fasting state (for IFG) or during an OGTT (for IGT) (see Table 1.6 for cutpoints). Since individuals with IFG may have diabetes, it is recommended that those who are found to have IFG should have an OGTT to exclude diabetes [7].

Whilst IGT has been part of the classification of glucose intolerance for many years, IFG was only added in 1997, with a lower cutpoint of 6.1mmol L−1 (110mg dL−1). However, in 2002, the ADA proposed a new cutpoint of IFG of 5.6mmol L−1 (100mg dL−1), as this maximized the sensitivity and specificity for predicting future diabetes [88]. On review of the same evidence, the WHO decided not to adopt this new cutpoint, as it significantly increased the number of people being labeled as abnormal, but without evidence that so doing would improve outcomes [69].

The purpose of defining other categories of glucose intolerance or prediabetes is to identify a group of the population at increased risk for the development of both diabetes and CVD, so that interventions (lifestyle and pharmacologic) can be applied to reduce these risks. IGT and IFG are considered risk factors for diabetes and CVD.

In summary, longitudinal data show that IFG and IGT are rather similar to each other in their ability to predict future diabetes and CVD. However, since the populations of IFG and IGT have limited overlap with each other, undertaking the OGTT to identify those with IGT provides the opportunity to identify a greater proportion of the at-risk population.

Normoglycemia

The notion underpinning setting a normal category of glucose is that people with values below the upper limit of normal are at no or only “normal” risk of developing diabetes or its micro- and macrovascular complications [5,7,84,89]. Since the risks of future development of diabetes and CVD are related to blood glucose across most of its spectrum, and well into any normal ranges that have been set, such notions of “normal” blood glucose should be interpreted very cautiously. The actual setting of the cutpoint indicating normoglycemia over the years has undergone considerable changes. The early classification in 1985 by US NDDG that was adopted by WHO had set diabetes at a fasting glucose of 7.8mmolL−1 (140mg dL−1) and those under this threshold were labeled “normoglycemia”. In 1997, upon the availability of new data, the ADA, with support from WHO reset the cutpoint of a “normal” fasting plasma glucose from 7.8mmol L−1 (140mg dL−1) to 6.0mmol L−1 (110mg dL−1) [5,7,89]. In 2002–2003, the ADA recommended that the cutpoint be 5.5mmol L−1 (100mg dL−1) [88].

Summary

The classification of diabetes is an evolving process. As the research into diabetes is a continuing and dynamic process and epidemiologic and clinical studies are in progress, there may well be revision and refinement of the classification system. This is especially important given the recent recommendation to use HbA1c to diagnose diabetes and the caveats to its use. As more knowledge emerges about the etiology of cases currently positioned in the type 2 process category, modification and refinement may be necessary.

Statin use before heart surgery reduces complications

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cholesterol-lowering medication is used by 28% of Americans over the age of 40, and statins account for more than 90% of these drugs.

Dr. Amr F. Baraka, from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, OH, took a look at the effects of statins on a number of cardiac surgery outcomes.[Diagram of heart]

Currently, it is common practice to stop statin use before and after surgery. Dr. Baraka's team wanted to investigate whether this pause in statin use was indeed beneficial, or if a continued program of statins might improve patient outcomes.

The review is the latest in a growing line of studies investigating statin's usage around the time of surgery. The review backs up previous findings and adds additional evidence.

It seems that surgical guidelines for the safe usage of statins might soon be changed.

What are statins?

Cholesterol is an essential ingredient in the cell walls of animals, but in large amounts, it can wreak havoc on health. Statins substantially reduce cholesterol levels by interrupting its production.

Statins inhibit an enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase, the enzyme responsible for creating cholesterol in the liver. Statins are also believed to help the body break down and reabsorb existing cholesterol plaques that might be dotted around the blood vessels of the body.

Alongside statin's use as a cholesterol-reducer, it is also being investigated for its potential therapeutic uses in dementia, lung and prostate cancer, hypertension and other diseases.

Statins and surgery

Heart surgery canidates often have a number of medical issues and, consequently, use a number of prescription drugs. Some medications can interact with the anesthetic used during surgery and may have other negative interactions. For this reason, prior to an operation, it is recommended that many medications are stopped, including statins.

Dr. Baraka, in conjunction with a team from the University of Florida in Gainesville, reviewed relevant research on Medline. They examined statin use before and after coronary artery bypass grafting and evaluated the outcomes.

Coronary artery bypass grafting procedures, as with any major surgery, can cause a serious inflammatory reaction. This inflammation can lead to postoperative complications.

The present review showed that statin use before surgery was well tolerated and that the benefits, including a reduction of atrial fibrillation, outweighed any potential negative side effects.

Although statins are predominantly utilized for their cholesterol-reducing prowess, they also have anti-inflammatory activities and promote blood flow; this could be the origin of their beneficial outcomes.

Dr. Baraka says:

"Previous research has shown that discontinuation of the medication at the time of surgery is common practice. The results of our review call for proactive efforts to counsel patients and surgeons about the benefit of statins - a benefit that definitely outweighs the risk of rare potential side effects."

The research could not define what statin dosage might be optimal; more research will be necessary before full recommendations can be rolled out.

"The current evidence suggested that the benefit of statin use in reducing the risk of stroke, heart attack, or kidney problems after surgery is not well established," says Dr. Baraka. "Further research is needed to study these associations to determine if the benefits of statins expand beyond cardiac complications."

Previous investigations into pre-operative statinsThis report adds further weight to previous work investigating the same question. A Cochrane review published in August 2015 found that the use of statins before cardiac surgery "resulted in a reduction in postoperative atrial fibrillation and a shorter stay both on the ICU and in the hospital."

The Cochrane team also found that pretreatment was associated with a reduction in myocardial infarction and renal failure, but these findings were not statistically significant.

Another study published in the European Heart Journal in September 2015 looked at the statin question from a slightly different angle. The trial reported on the outcomes of more than 15,000 patients undergoing non-cardiac operations.

The team concluded that, even in patients who were not having heart-based interventions, statins had a positive influence on recovery:

"Pre-operative statin therapy was independently associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular outcomes at 30 days."

The authors of the European Heart Journal study ended their paper with a call for larger studies. Dr. Baraka's work is just that; it adds another chunk of evidence supporting statin's safety and its benefits in conjunction with surgery.

Medical News Today recently reported on research showing that negative news stories about statins add to heart health risks.

 

 

 

Veggies won’t keep preschoolers away from junk food

Veggies won’t keep preschoolers away from junk food

If you were living in the myth that if your kid eats veggies he won’t head towards junk food, then it’s time you pop your bubble as a new research has some interesting revelations.healthy food, unhealthy food, childhood obesity, children, good food, bad food, vegetables, fruits, junk food, candies, fries,

Preschoolers from low-income neighborhoods in Columbus who ate fruits and vegetables and drank milk many times every day were just as likely to eat foods high in sugar, salt and fat as those who rarely ate healthy foods, found a research team led by Sarah Anderson at The Ohio State University.

Anderson said they assumed that the children who ate a lot of healthy foods would also be those who did not eat a lot of unhealthy foods. He just thought that was the way the world was and it turned out not to be the case.

When she and her colleagues looked for connections, studying their data in multiple ways, they found zero link. It’s too soon to call for policy changes based on this work alone, the researchers said and claimed that a larger national study is underway.

Co-author Phyllis said this suggests that they have to have two conversations. There has been a kind of assumption there that if a person encourages people to adopt healthy eating that it naturally leads to a decline in unhealthy eating. Efforts to lower childhood obesity rates often focus on adding good foods, rather than on avoiding bad foods.

During the study, the researchers interviewed parents or guardians of 357 children in the age group of two to five years and asked them to recall how often the kids ate certain foods in the past week.

This research doesn’t mean parents and policymakers should give up efforts to increase intake of more-nutritious foods, but it does challenge the idea that good automatically replaces bad.

Anderson compared the discovery to previous research showing that a person can at once be both very active and highly sedentary. About half the children in the study ate fruit two or more times a day. Some rarely ate vegetables, but more than a third had them multiple times a day. Most of the children drank milk at least once a day. In the week prior to the interview with a parent or guardian, only a third of the children did not drink sugar-sweetened beverages including soda pop and 29 percent had not eaten fast food.

The research is published in Maternal and Child Health Journal.

New Smartphone-Based System To Treat Diabetes

 Diabetics may soon be able to ditch constant finger pricks and insulin injections, thanks to a new smartphone-based system that can automatically control blood-sugar levels.

A smartphone, combined with a tiny sensor and wearable insulin pump, can stand in for pancreas, monitoring blood-sugar levels and delivering insulin as needed, researchers said.

The system will enter two final phases of international trials this year.

"We've been working on this specific artificial pancreas as it's called since 2006," said lead researcher Boris Kovatchev, director of the University of Virginia Center for Diabetes Technology.

 

The system works with a readily available blood-glucose sensor - about the size of a flash drive - that can be worn in a variety of places on the body, such as an arm, leg, or the abdomen, 'Ars Technica' reported.

The sensor reads blood-glucose levels every five minutes and wirelessly reports the results to a specially designed app on a nearby android smartphone.

The app's algorithm analyses the data and wirelessly controls a discreet, wearable insulin pump, which can be hooked to a belt or other piece of clothing. The pump has a very fine needle that delivers insulin into the blood stream.

For traditional management strategies and for Kovatchev's original version of the smartphone app, the goal is to keep blood-glucose levels at a specific target number.

This makes it easy to under- or over-shoot that specific target during manual blood-sugar management, and it means an automatic system has to frequently tweak levels.

Researchers have come up with an improved version of the smartphone app algorithm that does not aim for a specificblood-glucose number, but rather a "zone."

These patient-specific short ranges of healthy blood-glucose levels are easier targets that can be stably maintained, avoiding constant adjustments that can lead to swings, Francis Doyle III, dean of Harvard's Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences said.

The new algorithm will be able to adapt to each patient's sugar shifts and insulin sensitivity