Artificial Pancreas for Type 1 Diabetes Likely by 2018

Artificial Pancreas for Type 1 Diabetes Likely by 2018Artificial Pancreas for Type 1 Diabetes Likely by 2018

A new report brings welcome news to patients with type 1 diabetes: an artificial pancreas that continuously monitors blood glucose levels and delivers insulin to the body as and when needed could be available in the next 2 years.

The condition arises when the beta cells of the pancreas stop producing insulin - the hormone that is responsible for removing glucose from the blood and transporting it to cells, where it is used for energy. Without insulin, blood glucose levels become too high.

In order to control blood glucose levels, patients with type 1 diabetes require daily doses of insulin, either through injections or an insulin pump.

Injections remain the most common form of insulin administration; two daily injections are normally recommended for patients who have just been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, normally increasing to three or four over time.

Insulin pumps are a more advanced form of insulin delivery. They are devices that deliver a continuous dose of insulin 24 hours a day via a catheter that is inserted under the skin. However, while mostly effective for blood glucose control in type 1 diabetes, current insulin delivery methods do not account for variability of insulin needs among patients with type 1 diabetes.

The amount of insulin a patient needs can vary from day to day, depending on their diet, and physical activity levels.

According to report authors Drs. Roman Hovorka and Hood Thabit, of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, this puts pressure on patients with type 1 diabetes to regularly measure their blood glucose levels to make sure they are not too high or low, and to ensure the correct amount of insulin is administered, reported.

Such pressure can fuel poor blood glucose control for patients which put them at greater risk of complications, including heart disease and vision problems.


While such a treatment has been hailed a “breakthrough”, it does require major surgery and the subsequent use of immunosuppressant medication.

The new report was published in the journal ‘Diabetologia’. An artificial pancreas could offer a less invasive and more effective treatment for type 1 diabetes; it could eliminate the need for patients to continuously measure blood glucose and deliver insulin only when needed, they said.

What is more, this revolutionary technology might finally be within reach.

Artificial pancreas work on the basis of a “closed-loop” system; put simply, the system consists of continuous glucose monitoring, an insulin pump, and algorithms that control when insulin should be delivered.

Hovorka and Thabit point out that, to date, such technology has performed well in clinical trials, in which they have been tested in a variety of settings including controlled laboratory studies, diabetes camps, and outpatient settings.