The First ‘Artificial Pancreas’ Has just Been Approved
We all have heard of diabetes, a medical condition that is affecting millions of people around the world. There are two types of the disease that have been respectively named type 1 and type 2. Type 1 is characterized by complete absence of insulin and is classified as an autoimmune disease since the human body attacks the insulin cells and “kills” them. Type 2 refers to patients that have insulin but its levels are way too low. Insulin is a very important hormone that helps us metabolize sugar and keep its concentration in our blood within the acceptable limits.
So far, the only available “tools” against diabetes for the patients to use are insulin injections or an insulin pump, both require monitoring the current blood sugar level before use. However, this whole situation is about to change dramatically, at least for people who suffer from type 1 diabetes.
The FDA approved the release of MiniMed 670G, a device widely known as an “artificial pancreas“, a term that describes it rather accurately. The MiniMed combines the advantages of both the pump and the monitoring devices since it can do both autonomously. It measures the concentration of blood sugar in the patient's blood about every five minutes and as soon as it is found to be higher than the allowed number, the device injects insulin. There is also the ability to administer insulin manually, if the user feels any of the known symptoms in the time period between the automatic measurements.
So far, it has been tested extensively. The trial included a little more than 120 people and did not demonstrate any serious side effects. Even though the results are very encouraging, to say the least, Medtronic, the manufacturer of the device has already scheduled additional tests and trials to further investigate the effectiveness of its product. There are also plans to check whether the minimum allowed age to use the MiniMed 670G can be lowered from 14 years old down to 7.
Once again, we are witnessing a phenomenal breakthrough. It is an invention that can literally transform the lives of diabetes patients. The extent of the problem can be made clear by the statistics of the condition. There are about 1.25 million people suffering from type 1 diabetes in the United States alone. All we can do is wait and hope that the application of the scientific method of observing, experimenting and reaching undeniable conclusions will soon make the need of constant manual monitoring of blood sugar levels and injections of insulin things of the past.