An implantable artificial pancreas for diabetics has been developed that continuously measures a person’s glucose level and can automatically release insulin as needed.
Living with Type 1 diabetes requires constant monitoring of blood sugar levels and injecting insulin daily. The condition arises when a person’s own immune system destroys the pancreas cells that make insulin, the hormone that converts blood sugar into energy.
To make up for this loss of insulin production, patients must take insulin daily. Current delivery methods involve multiple daily injections or insulin pump therapy, both requiring the user to actively track glucose and calculate the needed insulin dose.
Francis J Doyle III from the University of California Santa Barbara, and colleagues wanted to find a way to make monitoring and insulin delivery automatic and needle-free.
The researchers designed an algorithm that monitors blood sugar levels and computes an insulin dose that it delivers quickly and automatically when necessary. The algorithm is designed to work with implanted devices, specifically with an artificial pancreas, and would overcome the delays experienced with current devices.
Computer testing of the algorithm simulated the rise and fall of glucose that would correspond to meals and an overnight period of sleep. The artificial pancreas maintained blood glucose within the target range nearly 80% of the time.
The researchers said they will soon test the device in animals. .