We've been relying on artificial insulin injections for diabetes management for over 30 years now—which is practically ancient in modern medicine terms. But now, the FDA (presumably pre-shutdown) has approved an artificial, wearable pancreas that may finally kick all those painful insulin injections to the curb.
Made by Minneapolis-based medical device company Medtronic, the palm-sized pancreas helper continuously reads the users glucose levels and lessens the flow of insulin as need be—just a like a real pancreas would—almost. The difference between the two is that the pump doesn't increase the amount of insulin in the presence or raised blood sugar. And while both glucose monitoring devices and insulin pumps are both currently available to diabetics, there was no system that combined the two until now.
And more than just being easier to use, this combined system may actually do more to save a patient's life. Because both the monitor and pump are connected, if the beeper-like device notices that the wearer's blood sugar is becoming dangerously low, it will automatically shut itself off for up to tow hours in order to prevent a diabetic coma.
Of course, no new technology is perfect, and the artificial pancreas does have a false alarm rate of 33 percent, according to Medtronics. Even with that, though, this is still one of the more accurate sensors we have available and is almost certainly one of the best ways to manage diabetes that we have available to us today. Plus, this is a major advancement that could, on day, lead to the production of an in-body artificial pancreas that really does work just like the ones Mom used to make.
Medtronic will start selling the device over the next few weeks, and they already have their eyes set on the next model: a fully automated version that requires absolutely zero input from the wearers themselves. [Singularity Hub]