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Artificial Pancreas Just Years Away

Researchers working on an artificial pancreas believe they are just a few years away from a nearly carefree way for people with diabetes to monitor blood and inject insulin as needed.

They believe they can link two current technologies — continuous glucose monitoring and insulin pumps — into a seamless package. Such a mechanical pancrease could greatly reduce the need for fingersticks and injections of insulin that diabetics must now endure several times a day, researchers told a meeting this week at the National Institutes of Health. “I think we are on the brink of a first-generation artificial pancreas,” said Dr Roman Hovorka of Britain’s University of Cambridge, who is testing some experimental devices with components by Abbott Laboratories and Medtronic, the No 1 maker of insulin pumps and continuous monitors.

Hovorka’s team has been testing devices in patients with type-1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease caused when the body mistakenly destroys the insulin-making cells in the pancreas. A continuous glucose sensor is implanted under the skin, and transmits blood sugar readings to a monitor.

A computer calculates the right dose of insulin, which is delivered by an insulin pump — something many patients already wear. His team is ready to send some patients home with the device, but has to work out the logistics of keeping a nurse full-time in each volunteer’s home, just in case. US Food and Drug Administration regulators are working closely with the researchers to ensure they design studies in a way that can lead to quick review, said Dr Aaron Kowalski of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which funds many of the artificial pancreas study teams.

Sources:The Times Of India

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