When parents gather together to help their children, mountains can indeed be moved.
In 1970, a group of parents formed the Juvenile Diabetes Research Association (JDRA). It has since raised 1.5 billion dollars. In 2006, the JDRA began funding a consortium of engineers to invent an artificial insulin monitoring and dispensation system. They recruited Animas Corporation and fast forward 5 years that artificial device is currently at the FDA’s door step. If approved, clinical trials could begin later this year or in early 2012.
The automated pump contains three main, closed-loop functions. Here is a description from an article in clinical trials research:
- A continuous glucose monitor for ongoing blood sugar levels and patterns
- A programmable computerized insulin pump
- An advanced computer algorithm (formula) that can calculate how much insulin the body needs, and when it needs it
The press release is calling it an artificial pancreas which certainly got my attention — great marketing idea, but it is a bit misleading. The Pancreas, along with monitoring levels of and secreting insulin also produces other hormones such as glucagon, and somatostatin, it also secretes digestive enzymes and assists with absorbing nutrients from the small intestine. So an artificial pancreas is not really an accurate description of the device. Despite this minor detail, it is still an exciting development. I wish it speedy success with the FDA and subsequent clinical trials.
Here is the inspiring closing paragraph from the article:
Once perfected, the new technology will have a monumental impact on the quality of life of insulin dependent diabetics. Not only will the new insulin delivery system simplify the constant challenge of controlling blood sugar, accurate insulin dosing and administering insulin injections, the resulting tight blood sugar control will help ward off a host of diabetes complications such as blindness, nerve damage, amputations and kidney and heart disease.
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