Artificial Pancreas?

It could lead to one of the biggest breakthroughs in medical history — or it could be just another flash in the news.

The Juvenile Diabetes Foundation International (JDRF) announced earlier this month that it is forming a partnership with Animas Corporation, a builder of insulin pumps and blood glucose monitors, to create an insulin pump that works together with a continuous glucose monitor to prevent extremely high or low blood glucose levels. According to the JDRF’s press release, the immediate goal is to build an insulin pump that, like current pumps on the market, requires users to manually control the basal rate at which insulin is delivered as well manually deliver mealtime boluses of insulin. However, if the user’s blood glucose level dropped too low — as measured by the continuous glucose monitor — the insulin pump would stop delivering insulin for a set period of time or until blood glucose returns to a safe level. If the user’s blood glucose level got too high, the pump would deliver extra insulin to bring it down. Such a system, if it works as designed, could immediately eliminate the risk of dangerous hypoglycemia (something especially important for people with hypoglycemia unawareness) as well as diabetic ketoacidosis, which can result from extremely high blood glucose.

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The JDRF will spend $8 million on this project over the next three years, with the goal of having a product ready for review by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in about four years. But the JDRF hopes that this effort will yield technology that can be developed further, eventually leading to a device that can fully regulate blood glucose on its own — mimicking, essentially, the function of pancreatic beta cells. People with Type 1 diabetes have no functioning beta cells and produce no insulin; people with Type 2 diabetes often have reduced beta cell function.

What do you think — would you be interested in using an insulin pumping system that could protect against blood glucose extremes? Do you agree with the FDA that developing an artificial pancreas should be a “critical path,” or with the JDRF that an artificial pancreas would be a “bridge to a cure” for Type 1 diabetes? Given that the JDRF spent over $100 million on research last year, is $8 million enough for this project? Leave a comment below!

  • Patricia Thomas

    I’m overjoyed with the prospect of developing a device which would automatically regulate your blood sugar. I am a Type 1, insulin dependent, diabetic for 48 years. I currently am on an insulin pump but still suffer from hypoglycemic episodes. I would be very excited to participate in the testing phase!

  • Sue

    It seems to me that for this idea to work, they need to first invent a faster acting insulin. Stopping insulin delivery for hypoglycemia may be too late if the insulin is already in the body.

  • Angela J Hill

    I am very interested in this type of meter. My 26 year old son is a Type I diabetic who also suffers from a severe mental illness. I am constantly concerned about his suger levels in the 300s and 400s. He has a pump and is unable to keep his levels in a safe range. Is there a clinical trial already started for this new meter?

  • Still too fat

    According to Dan Hurley, author of “Diabetes Rising” a similar device could be made right now, just by linking existing insulin pumps and glucose monitors, but the FDA has refused to approve using the devices in tandem.

  • Dwight

    That would be awesome! My wife has been a brittle diabetic for over 2 decades. She has “lost” the ability to sense her glucose levels and often has her glucose level slip low. She has difficulty regulating her glucose level. As her husband and the one that is around most of the time, I have on numerous occasions brought her out of a low glucose level coma in the middle of the night. It is a very wrenching experience and a difficult one at that. I also have a job that involves frequent travel and that is a very nervous time requiring lots of backup planning. Not only would a mechanical pancreas be wonderful for the patient, it would be great for me also. To minimize the accelerating deterioration of the body due to sugar level swings along with the mood effects, that would be a fabulous device to have. Minimizing mood effects would certainly go a long way to improving relationships. Keep up the great research and hopefully this will be a reality, soon.

  • Lori Hahn

    I would absolutely love it! I was actually in a previous study with Medtronic/Minimed for the Artificial Pancreas, but it included an implantable pump & sensor system. This study lasted 6 years & I would do it again in a heartbeat! Good luck to the JDRF, I wish you all the success!!

  • Lynda Williamson

    I will be so glad when this comes avaliable! I am on the pump since 2001 and the Glucose Sensor(6 months) which reads my blood sugar every 5 minutes. I’m not to happy with how the sensor is working. I have been a type 1 diabetic for 46 years and doing well. Hope it will continue and hoping for a CURE!

  • Gayle Caligiuri

    This avancement would be a answer to a dream. Having to take miltiple injections for Diabetes and Multiple Schlerosis, It would seriously simplify my life, and I think impove my health tremendously.

  • Jen Evans

    I am currently using the Animas pump and carrying the Dexcom continuous glucose monitor. I have had type 1 diabetes for over 40 years and this is the best control I have ever had..and even then it is not perfect, but I am still working with my Animas rep. to get it the best it can be. The CGM let me set my own low range so that I have plenty of time for a correction before it is serious, since, once my glucose level gets low, it does a nose dive in a few minutes. I will be so glad when the archaic FDA approves a combined device!

  • Tom Kenny

    As a 30+ year sufferer of type 1 diabetes, I don’t think the artificial pancreas would be a “bridge to a cure,” but would essentially BE a cure! I feel more than $8M is needed for this worthwhile effort!

  • Cecilia

    I am a Type 2 diabetic for 30 years, and experiencing some bad lows (i.e., 20, 25). I am considering getting the DexCom Seven Plus Continu9ous Glucose Monitoring System. Of course, my insurance will not cover it and it is expensive up front and to maintain.

    I would love to use an insulin pump that would help with the extreme highs and lows, and am willing to be a research patient if needed.
    It is encouraging to see in print the possibilities to help diabetics gain control of their blood sugars. God bless you, and keep on keeping on.

  • Rebecca

    I was hoping that something like this would be sooner than 4 years away, but it sounds really great!!

    I currently use the CGM System and I love it.
    Yes it has some tweeks, but it has saved my life a few times.

    I am looking forward to this new technology!!

  • Judith

    I will be so happy with this new device. My daughter sugar levels always so high. I think this pump could help.

  • James Johnson

    I can set the basal rate for the insulin pump I am using. Is this what you meant by “Manual” set?
    Based on my experience of Hi/LO glucose I would say it would be very advantageous to have the system detect these extremes and regulate accordingly.

  • Rick Polomski

    The development of an artificial pancreas sounds wonderful. Finaly something to benefit type 1 diabetics instead of another drug to help type 2 deal with their problems. I’ve been a type 1 diabetic for about 29 years now. Because I use Lantus along with Humalog insulin I can’t mix medications to reduce the number of shots I have to take, currently 5 -6 a day. Considering the 100’s of millions of dollars devoted towards diabetic research over the years, I wonder what has taken so long to come up with this idea. I say let’s get a move on …..the artificial pancreas sounds like the greatest since insulin for us type 1’s out here.

  • James D.Taylor

    Sorry to say it, but this is just one more “artificial” option that might assist folks in looking after their well being in regard to diabetes.
    Having lived now for 45 years with Type 1 diabetes I’ve seen the progression from pork and beef based insulin to current insulin analogs and the introduction of glucometers in the early 70’s to replace the old chemistry set option for checking urine glucose levels.
    While I appreciate the improvements, I’m holding out for a cure via pancreatic beta cell regeneration. I’d like to see more NIH money (and JDRF funding) focused in that direction before more “mechanical improvements” are introduced.
    I can’t wait to see the expense associated with this new technology when/if it comes to fruition.
    Given the huge expenses that most diabetics incur in simply maintaining their health I shudder to think how much we all will be paying for this new technology when it comes to market.

  • Diane

    This sound awsome. This would be so useful for those with frequent fluctuation in glucose levels. Do you anticipate any grant money or trial users at no cost to the patient. Most of us diabetic are already maxed out on cost of care. The sliding scale I currently use is inconvient at times and to have an automatic system would be so helpful.

  • Peggy Shane

    This sounds to good to be true! I’ve been wanting this for years. For almost 42 years I have been a type I diabetic and have been using the MiniMed pump for 21 years and the CGM sensors for 6 months. An “artificial pancreas” that includes these applications would be like heaven! Keep up the great work of research on this device and keep me on your list to preview it.

  • Elise B. Cole

    I have survived 63 years with Type 1. I am in favor of many more millions of dollars to produce a system that not only checks blood sugars continuously but also can deliver the proper amount of fast acting insulin as needed without hypoglycemic episodes.
    I am currently a part of the JDRF study of 50 year survivors of Type 1. An artificial pancreas sounds wonderful to me – especially the continuous glucose monitoring part. Can or will the obtaining of this multi-facilitated control mechanism be availlable through one’s insurance? A couple of years ago, my doctor prescribed a continuous glucose monitor for me through my insurance, but it was turned down. What are the possibilities the older I become?

    Posted by Elise Cole January 27,2010 5:08 PM

  • Tim Tracy

    I would surely be interested but also think not enough money is going in the proper direction.

  • Richard T. Gammon

    Insulin dependent diabetic for 58 years.
    Test 10 time/day, One Touch Meter and computer program. Run Charts weekly, set Range 59/200 BS, readings within range 90 per cent.Shots six times a day and tests 10 times a day. Find shooting and testing very enjoyable and painless. Test before Driving and each hour thereafer.Knowledge of BS on a current basis essential.

  • Joey

    It would be great if there is research more on creating NEW pancreatic “natural” cells through stem cell.

  • DivineLight60

    That would be great because I have the Somody effect and it is very hard to control my blood sugar with that condition.When I get low blood sugar I have to race to the cupboard to get some sugar.If I don’t make it in time then my blood sugar sky rockets.With a machine it wood react quickly.

  • DivineLight60

    I agree with you sue.and they need one that only works for an hour at a time because the Humalog lasts sometimes 6to8 hourse for me which means overlaping.That is why I have trouble with the pump.

  • Roseanna Jones

    This would be awesome. I have been a type 1 diabetic for 29 years and am on an insulin pump. It has given me a much better control than multiple daily injections. However, I do have hypoglycemic unawareness and sometimes drop rapidly until I am litterly in a fog and sometimes can’t help myself and a family member has to come to my rescue. But since the pump I haven’t had to make a trip to the hospital in an ambulance, thank God! This would be wonderful. I hope research takes less than four years though.

  • DivineLight60

    James the scientists are working on the wrong premis for finding a cure.Our body keeps reproducing beta cells and every other cells because cells die and reproduce no matter what.Type1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease and our immune system from confusion lets say picked the beta cells to kill off instead of some bacteria so the beta cells can’t grow back fast enough to be replaced.It is our immune system that needs to be reprogramed fo example.Been doing lots of studying about Vaccines and the adjuvents that are added to it.When they give you a vaccine they give you the disease.The polio shot I got actually gave me the disease six months later I got Type 1 diabetes.I have never been sick in my life before that except a cold once on a Blue Moon.I don’t take flu shots because I only had a slight flu about 3 times in my life so I don’t feel like I need it.If it wasn’t for the diabetes I would be healthy as a horse even after having it for almost 48 years.

  • Mary Struchen

    I too am type 1 brittle. I take insulin 3 times a day, and use a pen. I would cherish the fact that there is now an artificial pancreas. I would like to use one if my dr. thought it would be right for me. Diabetes is a scary thing, and i am only 54 and was almost banned from driving because of low blood sugars.

  • Jaime Phad

    I am so excited for this new idea! I am 26 and was diagnosed a type 1 diabetic at the age of 23. I have been on the pump for 2 years and I am still having trouble regulating my blood sugar. This is by far the best thing I have heard of! Who knows how far off we are from finding a cure! This could change the life of millions who have to fight everyday to regulate.

  • V.V.RAO

    Thank you for the good work that you people are doing for diabetic. I pray to god blessings of almight to JDRF Team to success for the society.
    Many blessings to jdrf. May god help you.

    regards,

    v.v.rao-hyderabad a.p. india

  • Bill Rawson

    Great idea! But why does the money go to one firm–Animas? I currently use a Medtronic pump.

  • Sharon Hook

    I’m excited to think that it may be possible to have such a system! I’m a 43 year type 1 diabetic using an insulin pump and glucose meter. I test 6 times a day at minimum, and would relish the thought of having this done for me on a continuous basis. I think this would help avoid many complications associated with diabetes.
    Bring it on! If you need volunteers to help with trial tests, I would love to be consideered.

  • Lisa

    I would love this system. At this time I use an insulin pump and a CGM system and if there is any time where they are looking for volunters I would be first in line.

  • fraz

    $8m should be enough i guess given that pump n glucose machines already exist just have to collaborate them into one device n some testing i guess.
    but yeah good luck n i am sure it would be a great device for people with diabetes.
    cheers

  • wayne keily

    I have had type 1 diabetes for 52 years Ifeel Iam in good control but Ido run too low with the result hypos which occur when everything seems to be going real well Iwould definetly put myself up for trials as Iwould love to be cured

  • Jim Cail

    Sounds very good to me!

  • Judy

    Would very much be interested!! Bring it on!!

  • linda strong

    I am 67 years old and have been a diabetic since I was 40. Ten years ago I developed chronic pancreatus. I was taken off meds and put on insulin by doctors from Mayo Clinic. They did this, so it would not have to work so hard. My controls are not good. When I have pancreatus my blood sugar goes crazy. I’m wondering if this new device would be of help to me? Would be glad to help.

    Linda Feb.12, 2020

  • TOM TOLMAN

    I’M A TYPE 1 DIABETIC WHOSE LIVED WITH THE DISEASE FOR 44 YRS. WE CAN SEND PEOPLE INTO OUTER SPACE, LAND ON MARS, WHY IS IT TAKING SO LONG TO COMBINE A PUMP AND BLOOD SUGAR MONITER INTO ONE SMALL REAL TIME UNIT? I’M GETTING TIRED OF THE MULTIPLE INJECTIONS AND HI’S AND LOW’S ! IT’S TIME TO GET IT ON THE MARKET, LET’S GO !!!!!!!

  • Masha Killion

    I AM A 58 YEAR OLD WOMAN WHO HAS HAD TYPE 1 DIABEES FOR 48 YEARS. THIS SOUNDS LIKE SOMETHING I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR. I AM READY TO BE PUT IN THE TESTNG OF THIS DEVICE. WE ALL KNOW WHAT DIABETES DOES TO YOUR BODY AFTER YEARS OF DIABETES AND I FOR ONE WOULD LIKE TO TAKE CONTROL OF MY BODY AGAIN.

    I AM READY

  • Alan Williams

    I have type 2 diabetes. I have high hopes for this new device. I am also hopeful that it could help me with my out of control blood sugars.

  • Wendy Costello

    CHEERS!! I say HURRY UP! My 11 year old has been a brittle diabetic since he was 5! We are ALWAYS chasing numbers back and forth and can never get it right, even with his pumps! So frustrating..
    I’m training for my first Beat the Bridge in May, and will be running for THIS for my little man!

  • dianne

    will this help in saving people with pancreatic cancer too?

  • Eva G.

    Where do I sign up?! This would give me a chance to live my life better and let me have more time with my family! I fear that I will not be able to watch my kids grow up, and this could give me more hope ! Just let me know where I can sign up for testing and I will be there with bells on! Thanks so much for the article!

  • Lori

    I was a Type 1 brittle diabetic (31 years) with gastropareses. Then I had a PTA — pancreas transplant. Life is wonderful. The drugs are expensive, but I don’t pass out at all. Having been glycemically unaware, with gastroparesis, I passed out frequently. However, I had no other complications, so the pancreas transplant gave me the best of gifts. Islets sound wonderful, but a whole organ transplant is reality, and it works today.

  • tamara

    Please, oh, please keep on! My 7 year old has been on insulin for a year. The doctors at Vanderbilt University say he defies all textbooks with his uncontrolled highs and lows. And all those who have Type 1 and 2 know what that does to you- our insurance will not pay for a cgm and he feels so awful most of the time. We can’t use Lantus because his morning numbers are usually within range but otherwise he goes from 400 down to 35 without a blink or warning. We would love any kind of trial research to help us cope with this stress

  • Krista

    I have had type 1 diabetes for 30 years. Its an exhausting disease with all the ups highs and lows with your bloodsugar. Had a bad case of DKA a few years back and Im very luck I survived it. It would be wonderful if an artificial pancrease came out. How many lives it could save!!!