Family looks forward to future of diabetes treatment

New ‘artificial pancreas' slated for spring 2017

Family looks forward to future of diabetes treatment

LA CROSSE, Wis. - It's National Diabetes Awareness Month, and for those affected by the disease, there's exciting news just around the corner.

A pediatric endocrinologist at Gundersen Health System, Katie Marquart, said there are more and more kids each year being diagnosed with Juvenile diabetes, or Type I diabetes.

Sophie is your average, energetic first-grader, but only two years ago, that wasn't the case.

"We saw Sophie as being a little off," her mother, Mandy Bisek, said. "What we came to find out later were the telltale signs of diabetes."

She was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, which means her body doesn't produce insulin. Her parents said the diagnosis and all the new work that came with it was scary at first, but now they've adjusted.

Sophie tests her blood six to seven times a day, and is now on an insulin pump, which delivers insulin directly into her body.

"(It) really made life a whole lot easier for her and us, but now that there's things right around the corner that can make life even easier is really exciting and keeps us hopeful," Mandy Bisek said.

The FDA recently approved a new, artificial pancreas system, which, Marquart explained, has a continuous glucose sensor that works directly with an insulin pump.

"So this system allows you to continuously monitor your blood sugar level without having to do so many frequent finger pokes, and that information is then transmitted to an insulin pump, which can give more or less insulin based on whatever that blood sugar is," Marquart said.

The local branch of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation has raised $500,000 over the past five years in La Crosse alone, and board member Brent Smith says that money went directly to the new technology in the devices.

"With these new devices, they will automatically get that insulin level to where they should be so you won't be in danger," Smith said. "As a parent who's been there, that is such a blessing."

"All the research , all the money donated to organizations like JDRF are really making a difference. The artificial pancreas, those types of things are becoming a reality much quicker than people expected and it's making our lives so much easier," Curtis Bisek, Sophie's dad, said. "It benefits kids like Sophie."

Marquart said we can expect to see those artificial pancreases available in the spring. She said there's also an implant device with cells that produce insulin undergoing clinical trials now.

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