The Artificial Pancreas Is Here

The Artificial Pancreas Is Here

by Ellen Sheng, Scientific American

Devices that autonomously regulate blood sugar levels are in the final stages before widespread availability

Type 1 diabetics, who do not produce the hormone insulin, must be vigilant about their blood glucose (sugar) levels. Chronic high blood sugar, which results from too little insulin, can lead to nerve and organ damage; low levels can cause seizures or death. The current gold standard in care involves a continuous glucose monitor (a sensor inserted under the skin), an insulin pump (a wearable device that can be programmed to release varying amounts of insulin), and a lot of trial-and-error work by the user—because the monitor and the pump don’t talk to each other.

Researchers have been working to make things easier for patients by integrating and automating the steps in the process. The end result—the artificial pancreas—is a system that can figure out how much insulin the body needs in near real time and then deliver that amount on its own.

“The artificial pancreas will allow us to live a near-normal life until there is a cure,” says Kelly Dunkling Reilly, a registered nurse and certified diabetes educator who was a subject in a recent clinical trial of Boston-based Beta Bionics’s iLet pancreas. “For the first time in my 24 years with diabetes, I was able to exercise whenever I wanted and work with my patients without the constant fear of hypoglycemia.” After more than a decade in development, several artificial pancreas projects are moving into the final stages before they become widely available.

Read the full article here…

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