Doctors make progress toward 'artificial pancreas'
(AP) - Doctors are reporting a major step toward an "artificial pancreas," a device that would constantly monitor blood sugar in people with diabetes and automatically supply insulin as needed.
A key component of such a system - an insulin pump programmed to shut down if blood-sugar dips too low while people are sleeping - worked as intended in a three-month study of 247 patients.
This "smart pump," made by Minneapolis-based Medtronic Inc, is already sold in Europe, and the US Food and Drug Administration is reviewing it now. Whether it also can be programmed to mimic a real pancreas and constantly adjust insulin based on continuous readings from a blood-sugar monitor requires more testing, but doctors say the new study suggests that's a realistic goal.
"This is the first step in the development of the artificial pancreas," said Dr. Richard Bergenstal, diabetes chief at Park Nicollet, a large clinic in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. "Before we said it's a dream. We have the first part of it now and I really think it will be developed."