A bionic pancreas could solve one of the biggest challenges of diabetes

The biological pancreas, a credit card-sized device called iLet, monitors a person’s levels around the clock and automatically delivers insulin when needed through a small, thin tube put into the body. It is worn continuously, generally on the abdomen. The device determines all insulin doses based on the user’s weight, and the user cannot adjust the dosage.

A team from Harvard Medical School submitted its findings from the study, described in New England Journal of Medicine, sent to the FDA in hopes of eventually bringing the product to market in the US. While a team from Boston University and Massachusetts General Hospital first tested a biological pancreas in 2010, this is the most extensive trial performed to date.

The Harvard team, working with other universities, provided 219 people with type 1 diabetes who had been taking insulin for at least a year with a biological pancreatic device for 13 weeks. The team compared their blood sugar with 107 people with diabetes using other methods of insulin delivery, including injections and insulin pumps, over the same time period.

Blood sugar levels in the biopancreatic group dropped from 7.9% to 7.3%, while the standard care group’s levels remained stable at 7.7%. The American Diabetes Association recommends a goal of less than 7.0%, but that number only reaches about 20% of people with type 1 diabetes, according to a new study. Research in 2019.

Other types of artificial pancreases exist, but they often require the user to enter information before they dispense insulin, including the amount of carbohydrates they ate at their last meal. Instead, iLet takes the user’s weight and the type of meal they are eating, such as breakfast, lunch or dinner, added by the user through the iLet interface, and it uses an adaptive learning algorithm. response to automatic insulin delivery.

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