After more than a decade of development, the artificial pancreas will soon be widely available. Unlike traditional care methods for Type 1 Diabetes that involve a continuous glucose monitor and insulin pump, this device will integrate and automate the steps in this process.
"The artificial pancreas will allow us to live a near-normal life until there is a cure," Kelly Dunkling Reilly, a registered nurse and certified diabetes educator who participated in a recent clinical trial of Beta Bionic's iLet pancreas, said.
The iLet administers both insulin and glucagon (the hormone that raises blood sugar). Based on information garnered from a continuous glucose monitor, the device's algorithm decides which hormone to release and how much. An insulin-only version could be approved as early as 2018.
iLet isn't the only product of its kind in development. Medical device maker Medtronic filed a premarket-approval application for a "hybrid closed loop" - an insulin pump that analyzes data from a continuous glucose monitor and automatically adjusts insulin rates. While users still need to input insulin doses to account for meals, a recent study showed "that the system was afe and could be trusted to autonomously determine doses."
This year also saw the start of the largest clinical trials so far with 240 patients throughout the US and Europe. This trial will "test the safety and effectiveness of a system that integrates an insulin pump, a continuous glucose monitor and a smartphone." The smartphone relies on an algorithm (two different algorithms will be tested) which analyzes blood sugar readings and then instructs the pump on how much insulin to release.