Artificial pancreas developed to aid diabetics

Fri, 17 Sep 2010
An artificial pancreas has been developed that could be a major advance in the treatment of diabetes, it has been revealed. The metal pancreas, which holds a supply of the hormone insulin kept in place by a gel barrier, could lead to daily insulin injections to control blood sugar levels being unnecessary in the future.

As glucose levels are controlled by insulin released by the pancreas when needed, people who have diabetes either do not produce enough insulin or it doesn't work properly in the body, so this device will identify when glucose levels rise, at which point the gel barrier begins to liquefy and release the right amount of insulin.

The insulin then moves into the veins around the gut before entering the liver, and so mimics the normal process for a person with a healthy pancreas. As glucose levels reduce, the gel hardens again and stops the supply.

It is hoped the device, which would be implanted between the lowest rib and the hip and then kept topped up with insulin every few weeks, would put an end to the problematic daily injections and glucose control that diabetics have to put up with.

The new pancreas, invented by Professor Joan Taylor at De Montfort University in Leicester, is currently undergoing pre-clinical trials ; if successful, it could move to clinical trials within the next few years, with a commercial device available within five to 10 years.
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