Health Team

Researchers working on artificial pancreas

Posted May 26, 2010

When the body works as it should, the pancreas produces the right amount of insulin right when the body needs it.

With Type 1 diabetes, however, the pancreas can't produce insulin, leaving diabetics to rely on glucose monitors and insulin pumps to maintain blood sugar levels and deliver insulin to the body.

Researchers working on artificial pancreas Researchers working on artificial pancreas

Researchers and engineers have been working to create an "artificial pancreas" that combines those technologies into one.

Unlike other methods of helping to maintain glucose levels, the artificial pancreas does not depend on users to make decisions.

There are several shortcomings to the current methods of monitoring glucose levels.

For example, even 10 pricks of the finger throughout the day can only provide a snapshot of a person's blood sugar level at any moment.

It doesn't provide a complete picture, like showing a downward or upward trend in between meals.

People also don't check their blood sugar while they sleep or when they are engaged in physical activity.

An artificial pancreas could monitor glucose levels all the time, just like a healthy pancreas.

A fail-safe device is still in the development phase.

"Our hope is that we'll get a product to the (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) within four years," said Larry Soler, a vice president of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.


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  • Six String May 27, 2010

    Lori27605 has the right answer. To add to that, there are some Type 2 situations where the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to be useful. A great deal of the Type 2 "epidemic" has to do with overeating, the wrong kinds of foods, and lack of exercise. If untreated, either type will eventually kill you so they are both serious.

  • lori27605 May 26, 2010

    Not_So_Dumb... NO Type I diabetic causes their disorder. Type I diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the insulin producing cells, causing the person to be dependent on insulin for the rest of their life. There is absolutely nothing a Type I diabetic could've done to prevent getting the disease. Type II, however, is a diff't story, as this form of diabetes is caused by the person not being able to use the insulin they produce (usually from being overweight). Only about 5 - 10% of all diabetes is Type I. Therefore, whenever you hear about the "diabetes epidemic", it's in reference to the Type II's. As a Type I diabetic myself, the mis-information/myths surrounding diabetes always drives me nuts, so I just wanted to use this as an opportunity to educate people!

  • givemeabreak May 26, 2010

    arthur in the garden ----- You are so unknowledgeable about the differences between type 1 and type 2. Please read up on the differences.

  • kristalrose29 May 26, 2010

    My 6 year old boy has Type 1 Diabetes. He's had it since he was 4. He wears an insulin pump and had to have his blood sugar checked 5-6 times per day. He is a very active little boy, who loves to run, play baseball, and climbs. I hope that they can create an artificial pancreas that will be reliable and help him.

  • Not_So_Dumb May 26, 2010

    Most type 1 diabetics don't cause the disorder. Type 2 on the other much could be saved in health care dollars and suffering if people were able to eat right and stay active?

  • SuperBonBon May 26, 2010

    Maybe this could save some folks with pancreatic cancer.

  • Frank Downtown May 26, 2010

    Eatting healthy and excersise is the key!