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Artificial Pancreas

June 14, 2010

A prototype artificial pancreas automatically regulates blood sugar in diabetic patients.


Automating diabetes management. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

People with diabetes have to constantly check their blood sugar, with insulin always at the ready. But an artificial pancreas may someday free their minds. Diabetologist Steven Russell of Massachusetts General Hospital is one of its developers.

STEVEN RUSSELL (Massachusetts General Hospital):
What we’re talking about here is turning over the control of a physiologic parameter like blood glucose to an automated device.

Specifically, a computer chip that uses blood sugar levels to decide when to deliver insulin or glucagon. Russell’s team tested a prototype on 11 diabetic patients. It successfully controlled all of the patients’ blood sugar over 27 hours and three meals. The next trial will be twice as long, and the device will be fully wireless – coordinating an electronic blood sugar monitor and a skin-mounted pump. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.