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Good News for Type 1 Patients: Artificial Pancreas Project Moves Forward

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JDRF Pancreas Project

Good News for Type 1 Patients: Artificial Pancreas Project Moves Forward

January 14, 2010

By Amanda Dolan for Diabetes1

On Jan. 13, 2010, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) issued a press release to announce its joint venture with Animas Corporation to develop the first automated system to help those with type 1 diabetes manage the disease better. This automated system is set to work as the first big step toward creating an official, artificial pancreas. This system will dispense insulin to patients in accordance with their changes in blood sugar levels on its own. As of now, patients use a combination of other devices to monitor and dispense insulin. With the advent of a new automated system, monitoring and dispensing could be done in one fluent automated motion, which would make a world of difference to patients who seek optimum diabetes management.

The JDRF is the leading researcher for diabetes type 1 worldwide, working toward better treatment and even cures for the disease. By partnering with Animas, JDRF looks to really jump start its “Artificial Pancreas Project” by developing an automated system, conducting necessary clinical trials for both safety and efficacy, and pass on the product to the FDA for device approval. As of now, Animas (owned by Johnson & Johnson) is a leading manufacturer that makes and distributes insulin delivery and glucose management systems.

President and Chief Executive Officer of JDRF, Alan Lewis, Ph.D., says in the press release, “If successful, the development of this first-generation system would begin the process of automating how people with diabetes manage their blood sugar … an artificial pancreas will deliver insulin as needed, minute-by-minute, throughout the day to maintain blood sugars within a target range.”

The goals of the new system would mean a significant improvement in the everyday lives of patients. This would mean the 3 million Americans with type 1 diabetes would no longer have to test, calculate, and treat themselves throughout the day. This version of the artificial pancreas would benefit both children and adults alike.

The JDRF will provide $8 million to this project over the course of three years, aiming at producing the first-generation automated system for review within the next four years. The pancreas, would utilize a wirelessly connected insulin pump with a continuous glucose monitor. As the monitor reads glucose levels via sensor, attached just beneath the skin with a “hair-thin sensor wire” on the patient’s abdomen. The sensor would transmit those readings to the insulin pump, which would release the insulin and deliver it through a small tube or patch on the body. Included on the pump would be a “sophisticated computer program that will address safety concerns during the day and night, by helping prevent hypoglycemia and extreme hyperglycemia.” The system would know when to increase insulin delivery and also work to reduce the time spent in the hyperglycemic range  returning the glucose to an acceptable level. By eliminating dangerous highs and lows, this first-generation artificial pancreas would work to improve the ease of diabetes management and, thus, the quality of life for patients.


Read the JDRF's Press Release here.

Learn more about the JDRF's Artificial Pancreas Project here.

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