The pancreas is an organ in the body that secretes several hormones that includes insulin and glucagon, as well as digestive enzymes that help break down food.
Insulin helps cells in the body take up glucose (sugar) from the blood to use for energy, which lowers blood glucose levels. Glucagon helps the liver to release stored glucose, which raises blood glucose levels.
Type 1 diabetes – occurs when the pancreas produces little or none of the insulin needed to regulate blood glucose. Type 2 diabetes – occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or the body becomes resistant to the insulin that is present.
So what exactly is this artificial pancreas?
Researchers have been working to make things easier for patients by integrating and automating the steps in the process. As an end result, “artificial pancreas” was created. It is a system that can figure out how much insulin does the body needs in real-time and then deliver that amount on its own. The artificial pancreas allows one to live a near-normal life until there is a cure. After more than a decade in research and development, several artificial pancreas projects are moving into the final stages before they become available widely.
Most Artificial Pancreas Device Systems consists of three types of devices:
1.a continuous glucose monitoring system (CGM)
2. an insulin infusion pump
3. A blood glucose device (such as a glucose meter)
- Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM)
provides a steady stream of information that reflects the patient’s blood glucose levels. A sensor placed under the patient’s skin, which measures the glucose in the fluid around the cells, which is associated with blood glucose levels. A small transmitter sends information to a receiver. A CGM continuously displays both an estimate of blood glucose levels and their direction and rate of change of these estimates.
- Insulin pump
Based on the instructions sent by the controller, an infusion pump adjusts the insulin delivery to the tissue under the skin
- Blood Glucose Device (BGD)
To get the most accurate estimates of blood glucose possible from a CGM, the patient needs to periodically calibrate the CGM using a blood glucose measurement from a BGD. Therefore, BGD plays a critical role in the proper management of patients with an artificial pancreas.
An Artificial Pancreas Device System will not only monitors glucose levels in the body but also automatically adjusts the delivery of insulin to reduce high blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia) and minimize the incidence of low blood glucose (hypoglycemia) with little or no input from the patient.
One of the largest clinical trials started this year with 240 patients based throughout the U.S. and Europe that was led by researchers at the University of Virginia and Harvard University. The trial will test the effectiveness and safety of a system, which consists of an insulin pump, a continuous glucose monitor, and a smartphone. The smartphone relies on the algorithm to analyze blood sugar readings and then instructs the pump on how much insulin to release. Two different algorithms are tested.