'Bionic Pancreas' Developed For Type 1 Diabetes Patients
Researchers at Boston University's Department of Biomedical Engineering and Massachusetts General Hospital have developed a revolutionary device equivalent to a 'bionic pancreas,' a device which does all the regulating of blood sugar that a human pancreas does when it is functioning properly. The bionic pancreas has been tested and found superior to blood glucose pumps on the market today as well as other pumps currently being tested.
For the 1.3 million children and adults that have Type 1 diabetes, the bionic pancreas will free them from having to monitor their blood sugar several times a day and give themselves insulin, as the device would do so automatically. Current methods are cumbersome and interrupt far too many daily activities.
The current model of the bionic pancreas, which has already been successfully tested on teens and adults, is roughly put together with two cell phone-size pumps, one for insulin and one for glucagon, and an iPhone wired to a continuous glucose monitor. Three small needles connected to the components need to be inserted under the skin, usually on the belly, to enable the bionic pancreas to 'read' the blood sugar, but this is done during the patient's regular activities, while perhaps the component instruments are kept in a waist or back pack.
Patients will still need to prick their fingers twice a day for blood samples to check if the bionic pancreas is doing its job correctly, but the new technology alleviates the burden of having to hook-up to pumps as many as 8 to 10 times a day and during the night, as well.
In the next few months, the researchers expect to collapse their working model into one device, which will be even less cumbersome for the user. Researcher Ed Damiano fully expects that the bionic pancreas will be ready to go within three years, by the time his son, who has Type 1 diabetes, is ready for college.
The complete text of the research findings is available online at the New England Journal of Medicine.