Artificial Pancreas Project


According to Aaron Kowalski, head of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Artificial Pancreas Project, the “Artificial Pancreas systems will be the most revolutionary advance[ment] in diabetes care since the discovery of insulin.” The Project is working to create a closed-loop system that regulates the balance of insulin and glucose, simulating the natural process performed in the bodies of nondiabetics.

Everyone make a cheer because step one is complete! Medtronic has made an insulin pump that is able to stop releasing insulin when blood sugar–as measured by a continuous glucose monitor–reaches a predetermined critical low.

The next step according to a roadmap set out by JDRF is to have the system anticipate an upcoming low and react before a critical blood sugar level is reached. Further goals include predicting and managing highs (in addition to lows), making the system closed-loop, and then allowing for other hormones to be incorporated such as glucagon (a hormone that counteracts lows).

In normal circumstances, the human body usually does a great job regulating the endocrine system by maintaining a working balance between insulin and glucose. Replicating this system is hard and researchers are currently putting a lot of work into balancing algorithms to determine correct insulin dosages.

There is a lot of information available about the current state of research, so if you’re interested in learning more, start here:

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