The Artificial Pancreas: Is it Finally On its Way?

For years, type 1 diabetics have been anxiously waiting for that medical marvel that can stop the constant injections: the artificial pancreas.

But it looks like the way may finally be over, as many companies are on the cusp of creating their final iterations of this life-changing technology.

A Who's Who of Diabetes Innovation

Around 3 million people in the U.S. alone have diabetes, and that number is growing all the time. In fact, it is believed that one-third of the U.S. population will have diabetes by 2050 – not to mention the rise of diabetes in other nations such as India. Therefore, it is no surprise the researchers making progress on the artificial pancreas come from all over the world.

Dublin-based company Medtronic seems to be leading the pancreas race; they claim they will have an advanced artificial pancreas on the market in 2017. Meanwhile, across the pond, Dr. Boris Kovatchev of the University of Virginia Center for Diabetes Technology is in the midst of final clinical trials with TypeZero Technology.

How Will It Work?

There are a few different designs for the artificial pancreas. However, the most widely-publicized design is the closed-loop system, where continuous glucose monitoring, an insulin pump, and a set of control algorithms keep a diabetic patient's levels in check. Dr. Kovatchev has seen great success with this system, saying in an interview, "The algorithms it is based on are resulting in better and better outcomes. For people with type I diabetes, it's quite a hopeful time."

Of course, the artificial pancreas still has quite a road ahead. Even after clinical trials are complete, the FDA will need to sign off on the product before it is made available to consumers. But for diabetics who have waited for years, these developments ignite hope and excitement.

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