Scientists develop bionic pancreas for diabetics

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Scientists are trialling bionic pancreas that can monitor and adjust blood sugar levels. Reuters Scientists are trialling bionic pancreas that can monitor and adjust blood sugar levels. Reuters
SummaryScientists are trialling bionic pancreas that can monitor and adjust blood sugar levels...

Scientists are trialling bionic pancreas that can monitor and adjust blood sugar levels and may be available to diabetics within three years.

The bionic pancreas trialled among 30 adults was very well-received by the participants, and has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for three transitional outpatient studies over the next 18 months.

People with type 1 diabetes are unable to produce insulin, a hormone that is required to control the level of sugar in the bloodstream.

Associate professor of biomedical engineering at Boston University Dr Edward Damiano, and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School Dr Steven Russell developed the bionic pancreas.

The device comprises a sensor inserted under the skin that relays hormone level data to a monitoring device, which in turn sends the information wirelessly to an app on the user's smartphone, 'Gizmag' reported.

Based on the data, which is provided every five minutes, the app calculates required dosages of insulin or glucagon to maintain optimal blood sugar levels and communicates the information to two corresponding hormone infusion pumps worn by the patient.

The bionic pancreas has been trialled with diabetic pigs and in three hospital-based feasibility studies amongst adults and adolescents over 24-48 hour periods.

The upcoming studies will allow the device to be tested by participants in real-world scenarios with decreasing amounts of supervision.

If the trials are successful, a more developed version of the bionic pancreas will be created.

The device will be a single, dual-chamber insulin and glucagon pump, without the need for being paired with a smartphone app.

It will be tested in hundreds of participants with type 1 diabetes over a six-month period, with the results compared against participants in a control group using their usual care routine.

According to 'USA Today', Damiano hopes that the bionic pancreas will gain FDA approval and be rolled out by 2017.

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