The artificial pancreas is a technology
in development to help people with
diabetes automatically control their
blood glucose level.
It is the lack of insulin production which
is the motivation to develop a
substitute. While the current state of
insulin replacement therapy is
appreciated for its life-saving
capability, the task of manually
managing the blood sugar level with
insulin alone is arduous and
Different approaches under
- the medical equipment approach
-- using an insulin pump under
closed loop control using real-
time data from a continuous
blood glucose sensor.
- the bioengineering approach --
the development of a bio-
artificial pancreas consisting of a
biocompatible sheet of
encapsulated beta cells. When
surgically implanted, the islet
sheet will behave as the
endocrine pancreas and will be
viable for years.
- the gene therapy approach --
the therapeutic infection of a
diabetic person by a genetically
engineered virus which causes a
DNA change of intestinal cells to
become insulin-producing cells.
MEDTRONIC'S SENSOR PLUS PUMP
In Europe, Medtronic is conducting
human clinical trials toward achieving
an artificial pancreas.Trial No:
NCT00598663 and others.
The system is fully automated by
combining Medtronic MiniMed's long-
term glucose sensor and its
implantable insulin pump. A summary
of the project shows promise as well as
some present limitations:
The implantable sensor is inserted into
a neck vein leading to the heart.
The sensor is connected, via an
electrical-type wire under the skin, to
the implantable insulin pump: as blood
sugar levels fluctuate, a signal tells the
pump how much insulin to deliver.
The sensor accurately measured
glucose in 95% of cases when
compared with values obtained by