Artificial Pancreas: The Quest Continues
Though we are all hopeful for an eventual cure for Type 1 diabetes, the continued wins researchers are seeing in their quest to create an artificial pancreas is heartening.
Most of the focus in the news recently is on recent improvements in combining insulin pump technology with continuous blood glucose monitoring. Intuitively it would seem simple. Have a single device that measures blood glucose on a continuous basis and based on readings release insulin into the body.
Ah, but nothing is as easy as it seems. Numerous challenges exist, but a key one is the lag between food consumption, what a glucose monitor measures, and the ability to get insulin into the system. What needs to happen is to be able to predict glucose levels based on types of foods being eaten and immediately release the insulin to welcome the food. (Our body’s ability to do this is simply remarkable)
There are folks working on this problem luckily. A recent article in US News and World Report describes the effort of a team of mathmaticians, let by Boris Kovatchev, that are developing algorithms based on specific individual’s insulin requirements. So far they’ve had some luck.
Another group attempting to tackle this are out of the University of California Santa Barbara. They recently released results of a study of a software program that they have developed to do just this kind of anticipation and ensure that not too much insulin is released.
Soon enough (in the next year or two? maybe?) all-in-one devices will be on the market to help manage this disease.