The new device, which measures and administers insulin at intervals, could help over a million people improve their quality of life.
The company Medtronic has developed the first artificial pancreas and has been given the thumbs up by the Food and Drug Administration meaning it could be available for U.S. Type 1 diabetes sufferers as soon as next year.
The device named MiniMed 670G will be able to measure a patient’s glucose level every five minutes and administers insulin if needed – all done automatically so the patient doesn’t have to think or worry about it.
The closed-loop system has a needle implanted just under the skin while the monitoring device is worn around the abdomen that links to the needle with tubes. The device could make the lives of people with Type 1 diabetes – the more serious version due to having little or no insulin produced by their pancreas – can be made more comfortable and worry-free.
“You get almost normalized overnight blood glucose. For people with Type 1 diabetes, that’s massively important,” said Aaron Kowalski, chief mission officer for the JDRF, the organization that funds much of the “artificial pancreas” research. “The diabetes isn’t gone, but [wearers] can think about it less …This is a historic milestone” he added.
It won’t come cheap though, with one device looking to cost anything from $5000 and $8000 and it is yet to be approved by European regulators. The device isn’t completely perfect – patients will still have to manually ask the device to administer insulin after meals, needs to be calibrated every 12 hours, make adjustments when they exercise and also other maintenance.
Despite the technical annoyances, it’s a small price to pay for the 1.25 million children and adults that live daily with this form of diabetes.
For more information on diabetes visit the American Diabetes Association website.