Artificial pancreas could change the lives of diabetics

Releasing insulin as needed

Type 1 diabetes affects tens of millions of people around the world, who are forced to actively track the amount of blood sugar in their body and inject insulin to regulate it.

But now researchers at the University of California in Santa Barbara have designed an 'artificial pancreas' that continuously monitors glucose levels in the blood and automatically releases the correct amount of insulin when needed.

Francis Doyle and his colleagues wanted to find a way to make monitoring and insulin delivery automatic and needle-free, so they designed an algorithm that computes exactly the right insulin dose from blood sugar readings. It's designed to work alongside an implanted artificial pancreas that takes those blood sugar readings and releases the insulin directly into the bloodstream.

Meals and sleep

During tests, involving the simulated rise and fall in blood sugar levels that'd be seen during the day due to meals and sleep, the artificial pancreas maintained blood glucose levels within a target range about 80% of the time.

The next step is to test the device in animals, as well as to continue to revise the algorithm to further improve results. Details of the device were published in the journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry research.

Image credit: Yusmar Yahaya // CC BY-ND 2.0