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Artificial pancreas for diabetics being developed by Mayo Clinic

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June 27, 2011

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic are developing an artificial pancreas, that would automatic...

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic are developing an artificial pancreas, that would automatically maintain blood sugar levels in diabetics

If a just-announced research project is successful, then maybe - just maybe - diabetics will finally be free of having to perform daily finger prick blood tests and insulin injections. Based on new findings regarding the body's production of insulin, Mayo Clinic endocrinologists Yogish Kudva and Ananda Basu are in the process of developing an artificial pancreas, that would automatically deliver the hormone when needed.

One of the key revelations is the fact that activity after meals greatly affects the blood sugar levels of people with type 1 diabetes. When diabetics engage in even low-grade activity after eating, their sugar levels stay close to those of people with normally-functioning pancreases. When eating isn't followed with activity, however, the sugar levels rise.

The artificial pancreas would be a closed loop system, that would include a blood sugar monitor, an automatic insulin pump, a set of activity monitors that attach to the body, and a central processing unit. Receiving input from the activity monitors and the blood sugar monitor, a pancreas-imitating algorithm in the CPU would activate the insulin pump as necessary, to maintain normal glucose levels in the bloodstream.

"Physical activity enhances insulin action, hence lowering blood glucose concentration," said Dr. Kudva. "Real-time detection of physical activity - and modeling of its effect on glucose dynamics - is vital to design an automatic insulin delivery system."

Clinical trials on inpatient volunteers are likely to begin this November at the Mayo Clinic. Participants will follow strict diet, exercise and insulin-delivery regimens, with the resulting data being used to form the basis of the algorithm.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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3 Comments

It makes me wonder why it dosen't develop as quick as it could. No founding? Not too many diebetic people in the world? Pharmaceutical interests mix up? I hope to live to see some result.

Philippe Menezes
28th June, 2011 @ 05:31 pm PDT

How do I volunteer? I'm type II, Diagnosed in 1998...

Gerald Calvin Bohmer Jr
28th June, 2011 @ 07:56 pm PDT

Still trying for the mechanical system that requires maintenance and refilling, even after successes with culturing healthy islet cells then injecting them into the liver and doing the same to "recolonize" an under-performing pancreas with good islet cells.

What about the other type of diabetes where the pancreas works properly?

Gregg Eshelman
28th June, 2011 @ 11:04 pm PDT
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