Hand holding syringe

With over 1.25 million Americans diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, these trials offer hope to controlling a disease that is tough to manage.  The most common treatment is regular insulin injections.  Harvard University researchers have introduced an artificial pancreases that can detect blood sugar levels and automatically administer insulin.

Insulin which is hormone produced by the pancreas helps the body control blood sugar levels.  Chronically high blood sugar levels can cause a myriad of long term side effects including, damage to the eyes and kidneys.

Multiple injections everyday is the normal method of treating diabetes but with the growing prevalence of the disease, more advanced methods are being tested across laboratories and medical institutions.  

This new study is a collaborative effort between Harvard University and University of Virginia School of Medicine.  The researchers are aiming for 240 people with type 1 diabetes to get the “artificial pancreas”.

This external, wearable technology used $13 million in funding from the National INstitute of Health.  It is designed to be a completely automatic glucose-regulating device.

By combining an insulin pump with an implanted blood sugar monitor this device connects to a smartphone to accomplish the blood sugar regulations.  But it monitors more than just blood sugar, it also monitors sleep patterns, stress levels, metabolism, nutrient levels and physical activity.  All of this information will help to produce progressively more accurate insulin delivery.man holding syringe

Through the trial, the algorithm will start to detect patterns within the patient’s behavior which will allow it to help control the unpredictable patient’s blood sugar levels.

“The idea is that this can lead to an improved quality of life for individuals with this disease – not a solution to diabetes, but a means to really extend the quality of their healthful living,” said Francis J. Doyle III, co-principal investigator and engineering lead on the project.