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New Artificial Pancreas For Type 1 Diabetes

New Artificial Pancreas For Type 1 Diabetes

Suffers of type 1 diabetes may soon be able to keep their condition under control with a new automated artificial pancreas…

A new artificial pancreas, which regulates a patients blood sugar levels automatically, could help improve the lifestyles of thousands of people every year who develop type 1 diabetes.

To manage Type 1 diabetes, patients must take regular blood tests and insulin injections throughout the day to manage blood sugar levels, but the new device hopes to remove some of the hassle in maintaining such a strict routine.

The artificial organ was developed at the University of Virginia in conjunction with the University of California, Santa Barbara; Montpellier University Hospital in France; and the Universities of Padova and Pavia in Italy, as part of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s (JDRF) Artificial Pancreas Project.

artificial pancreas type 1 diabetes 550x309 New Artificial Pancreas For Type 1 Diabetes

Artificial Pancreas For Type 1 Diabetes

Image Credit: Artificial Pancreas Project, 2012.

The device consists of two parts – an insulin pump with a built-in glucose monitor that is implanted into the patient, and an outboard ‘mobile-phone’ control unit that automatically manages insulin levels.

What makes the artificial pancreas so accessible so that both the implanted components and the mobile phone control unit are off-the-shelf devices – although the mobile phone has been modified somewhat.

While the pump and GCM perform a traditional task of monitor blood sugar levels and alerting the patient, the smart-phone unit acts as the system’s brain—automating, in real-time, the process of monitoring and adjusting insulin levels.

The current system still requires the patient to check and adjust the pumps out put twice daily, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. In the future it’s hoped that the device could be fully automated and cut out the need for constant pricked fingers and syringes altogether.

The JDRF has already received FDA approval for outpatient testing of the new system and has just recently begun the first round of tests.

Justin Wood of Charlottesville, VA, 40, was the first American patient to test the artificial organ. “The device automates a lot of the tracking and monitoring I do now,” he said.

Previously, he had to abide by a strict regimen of a low-carb diet and up to five-finger pricks a day to monitor his sugar levels. But now he feels that the new system will allow him to eat more freely, and reduce his pin pricks to just two per day.

Of course, system still needs further testing before it receives approval for all Type 1 patients. The clinical trails will continue through 2013, and are scheduled to involve a total of 120 patients from America, France and Italy.

Type 1 diabetes afflicts some 30,000 Americans every year, so it goes without saying that the approval of such a device could improve the lives of thousands of people every year.


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  1. Andrew Tarontola: This New Artificial Pancreas Could Solve Type 1 Diabetes. Gizmodo, 06/18/2012.

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