New implanted form of artificial pancreas for diabetes set for human trials

Fri, 24 Jan 2014
Human trials of a new form of artificial pancreas that is implanted into the body to treat diabetes, has been scheduled to run in 2016.

Whilst a number of artificial pancreas systems are currently being developed, the majority of these are based around an insulin pump communicating and responding to readings provided by a continuous glucose monitor.

The new device differs, however, in that it is an implantable device that contains a refillable reservoir of insulin. The device in two and a half inches in diameter and is surrounded by a gel which softens and hardens in response to change in sugar levels, meaning more insulin is released when sugar levels are high and insulin is not released when sugar levels are too low.

The implantable artificial pancreas would need to be refilled at regular intervals with a tube which would access the device through the skin. Refilling of the device would need to be an every occurrence as is the case with insulin injections.

The device has been developed within the UK at De Montford University. Polymer chemist Professor Joan Taylor has been working on the device for the last 20 years.

The cost of the device, and the cost of surgery to implant it, would be around £5,000. The human clinical trials will need to be successful, however, before the device can be recommended for use. The device could be particularly useful for people with type 1 diabetes that require multiple injections per day.
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