AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Ultrasound technology has been around for a long time. Most people associate it with seeing their baby in utero, but developments in contrast agents and in the technology itself is allowing medical personnel to get clearer, more precise images from deeper in the body.
"My overall research interests are basically, how the pancreas, or the parts of the pancreas that controls insulin production are working, and how it becomes dysfunctional in Type 1 diabetes," said Richard Benninger, an associate professor of bioengineering in pediatrics at the University of Colorado, and a principle investigator at the Barbara Davis Center.
Benninger and PhD student, David Ramirez, are using ultrasound to track changing blood flow in the pancreas. An increase in blood flow is an indication of inflammation, a key indicator of the onset of Type 1 diabetes.
"We did some measurements in various pre-clinical models of diabetes, and we saw some very exciting results," Benninger explained.
The research has far-reaching implications. It uses a relatively cheap, common technology to potentially help doctors better diagnose and track treatments of Type 1 diabetes.
"We're on the very cutting edge here, so it's just nice that I get to live that," Ramirez said.
This research project is of particular importance to him.
"I was diagnosed when I was ten years old, and I like to think that my diabetes is of drinking age now," Ramirez said with a laugh.
In the 21 years he's lived with the disease, he's learned how to balance his blood sugar with exercise and activity.
"I think about it every hour of every day, that's just the reality of it," he told CBS4.
In the time he's worked on this research, he's learned the biology behind the disease, with an eye toward one day preventing it from developing altogether.
"It is hard because you kind of see your own mortality every day, but the fact is, it will make me a stronger student, a stronger patient with Type 1, and, I think, it will make me a better person."
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