I just got back from U. of Minnesota where I was able to participate in a hypoglycemia unawareness study. The study uses subjects who are participating in an islet cell transplant study as their subjects. It is designed to see where the glucose is concentrated in the brain during hyperglycemia. The test is run both pre- and post-transplant. I did the pre test last winter and just finished the post-transplant portion this week. The procedure is as follows:
I was given an infusion of glucose to raise my glucose to about 200 and then placed into an MRI chamber where the glucose could be measured inside my brain. I had an IV in a foot vein so that my blood could be drawn every 5 minutes to verify the glucose level. I also had another IV to infuse insulin if it my glucose level became too high. I was in the MRI chamber for about an hour.
Afterwards, as a second part of the study, I was given enough insulin to get my glucose level down to about 50 to see how my body reacted to this. Again, my blood was drawn every 5 minutes and it was recorded how much insulin and glucose I was given to maintain this glucose level.
The results will be compared together (Pre and Post-transplant) and with nondiabetic patients. The idea is to see if a higher concentration of glucose in certain areas of the brain are related to having hypoglycemia unawareness and if so, how could this be treated. Hypoglycemia unawareness is so potentially dangerous. It is an important problem to be addressed.
It was an interesting and rewarding visit. I also got to meet another potential transplant patient who is just as excited about the whole islet cell experience as I am. We had a lot in common.
I am including an image of my brain from the pre-transplant visit. The MRI expert was nice enough to e-mail it to me. It doesn't mean a lot to me scientifically, but does prove of its existence to many who would have their doubts.