Researchers report artificial pancreas not too far off

6/18/2008

NEW YORK Researchers are getting closer to launching an artificial pancreas that would automatically regulate diabetics’ blood sugar, according to the Houston Chronicle. The product would be able to be used by both Types 1 and 2 diabetics.

However, it wouldn’t be a traditional replacement organ. Rather than physically resemble a pancreas and fit near it, it would mostly rest outside the body and strive only to duplicate function. It would build upon two existing devices, insulin pumps and continuous blood glucose monitors.

In the finished product, the monitor will not only measure a diabetic’s blood sugar level, but will also signal the pump to release an appropriate amount of insulin to adjust the level into the normal range, in effect mimicking a real pancreas. A computer program, developed based on the changes in levels caused by human diet and behavior, will calculate the particular need at any given time.

The system is already in trials at centers in the United States and internationally. But researchers say it’ll likely be another five or so years, as component parts are improved and consolidated into a single package, before the realized vision is ready to hit the market.

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