The University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) scientists have developed an implantable artificial pancreas, which continuously measures a patient's glucose level and can automatically release insulin as needed.
Developed as part of efforts to make monitoring and insulin delivery automatic and needle-free in patients with Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas works with an algorithm that monitors blood sugar levels and computes an insulin dose for rapid and automatic delivery, when necessary.
Designed by UCSB researchers, the algorithm can work with implanted devices and also helps overcome the delays experienced with current delivery devices.
The algorithm is believed to have met expectations by simulating the rise and fall of glucose during computer testing, which would correspond to meals and an overnight period of sleep.
During testing, the artificial pancreas maintained blood glucose within the target range nearly 80% of the time, and is expected to be tested in animals in the near future.
Previously known as juvenile diabetes, Type 1 diabetes arises due to the destruction of a person's pancreas cells by their own immune system. Pancreas cells make insulin, the hormone that converts blood sugar into energy.
Patients are required to take insulin daily to make up for this loss of insulin production. Existing delivery methods involve multiple daily injections and insulin pump therapy, both requiring the user to actively track glucose and calculate the needed insulin dose.
In addition, a significant time lag exists between when a dose is needed and when it becomes effective.
The study has been published in the ACS journal, Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research.
Image: An artificial pancreas has been developed to help replace constant glucose monitoring and frequent insulin injections in Type 1 diabetes patients. Photo: courtesy of ratmaner / iStock / Thinkstock.