The long-awaited artificial pancreas is about to undergo its final phase of testing in 2016. If all goes well, care of type 1 diabetics could drastically change for the better.
What Is the Artificial Pancreas?
The pancreas is the part of the body that monitors blood sugar levels and releases insulin. Type 1 diabetes is caused when a pancreas stops working.
The artificial pancreas is expected to do the job that a natural pancreas would have done. Boris Kovatchev, Ph.D., director of the UVA Center for Diabetes Technology, explains that the device is "an adaptable, wearable network surrounding the patient in a digital treatment ecosystem."
Technology for the artificial pancreas has been in development and early testing stages for decades. Human trials begin this year with groups of type 1 diabetics who will be monitored while using the artificial pancreas.
Diabetes impacts the human bodies in multiple ways, even from minute to minute. Food intake, insulin shots, activity level, stress and numerous other factors have an effect on your blood sugar levels at all times. "To be able to control for those factors, we need to see longer intervals of data. This is the first trial where we’ll be looking at multi-month intervals of time,” said Francis Doyle III, a co-investigator of the study.
If the artificial pancreas is deemed reliable, it could change the way type 1 diabetics are treated.
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