Oskar Minkowski and Joseph Von Mering met accidently in a library in 1889. Striking up a conversation, they began to debate whether the pancreas helped digest and absorb fats. Performing a pancreatectomy on a dog that same night, they found the dog developed glycosuria, a condition associated with diabetes that causes the production of a lot of urine. Minkowski found the urine was 12% sugar. They then depancreatized another dog and found that prevented hyperglycemia.
The bionic pancreas is another project from Boston University and Massachusetts General Hospital in a joint effort to create a bionic pancreas, a type of artificial pancreas which not only includes insulin but also glucagon to raise blood sugar. The system is intended to use an algorithm that checks every 5 minutes to calculate the amount of insulin or glucagon needed. The project has recently formed into a public benefit corporation called Beta Bionics. This newer structure allows it to serve not just shareholders, but also the public good. Beta Bionics also became the first American company to raise over a $1 million from small investors under new public investing rules!
After breaking this down, Brand took questions from the audience. The first was from a person in the third row who said her brother is an addict who keeps coming to her for money. What should she do? Brand moved to the very front of the stage and looked into the back of her eyes and told her she knows what she has to do—which is cut him off, let him hit rock bottom. She said, yes, she knows, and she cried.
The fact these improvements can happen independently of weight loss should also signify a shift in how we conceptualize both obesity and diabetes, according to Peter Billings, the Seattle bariatric surgeon who operated on Benari. Billings, a nearly 20-year veteran in the field, has started to perform surgery on other lower-BMI patients similar to Benari, though they often pay out of pocket.
Diabetes is a disease in which your blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels are too high. Glucose comes from the foods you eat. Insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose get into your cells to give them energy. With type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin. With type 2 diabetes, the more common type, your body does not make or use insulin well. Without enough insulin, the glucose stays in your blood. You can also have prediabetes. This means that your blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes. Having prediabetes puts you at a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes.