The Artificial Pancreas Project is set to begin long-term trials in the U.S. The results of this study could lead to new treatments for those suffering from type 1 Diabetes.
One of the major functions of the pancreas is to supply the body with insulin, the hormone responsible for regulating glucose (sugar) levels in the body. There are two major types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. In Type 1 diabetes the pancreas does not produce the right amount of insulin. With Type 2, Insulin is produced, but it is ineffective. Both types cause glucose levels in the blood to become unregulated, often leading to hyperglycemia (too much sugar in the blood). The traditional treatment for both conditions, beyond dietary controls, has been insulin injections. Patients may need to test their blood glucose levels and inject themselves several times a day.
The Artificial Pancreas Project could change the way patients with type 1 diabetes manage their condition. Courtesy of The University of Virginia
While the Artificial Pancreas Project in not the only new treatment to emerge over recent years, it is one that may offer hope for those whose Diabetes is difficult to control. According to the project's lead researcher, Francis J. Doyle III, the purpose of the artificial pancreas is to "automate the delivery of insulin". While he admits that this device is not a solution to Diabetes, he does say it will lead to an improved quality of life.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7AmVn2Rj2Q
The trials will last for six months and include 240 adults suffering from type 1 diabetes. The device is an implant which contains an insulin pump and blood sugar monitor. The device links with a smartphone and using sophisticated software, monitors the wearer's blood glucose levels. If needed, the device will deliver a dose of insulin.
It took almost $13 million to create the device. The idea for this project came into inception about 20 years ago. It was a collaboration between Harvard University and University of Virginia School of Medicine that brought it to the current stage.
The ultimate goal of the device is collect data on the user and regulate blood glucose levels in a manner that is similar to that of a healthy pancreas. This could allow patients that until now have had great difficulty controlling their diabetes allowing for better quality of life.