The Artificial Pancreas: A Future Treatment for Diabetics?

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Benefits of the Artificial Pancreas

The artificial pancreas is a computerized device that will perform the functions of a normal and healthy pancreas. The computerized device will constantly monitor blood sugar levels and calculate the proper dose of insulin needed. Every minute, the device will deliver the proper amount of insulin determined by the blood sugar level readings of the computerized device. This constant monitoring and regulating of blood sugar levels could prevent diabetes complications including major complications such as blindness, heart disease and early death caused by improper blood sugar levels. The artificial pancreas would eliminate the patient having to manually monitor their blood sugar levels and inject insulin. This man-made organ will be much more efficient at keeping a diabetes patient’s blood sugar levels normal.

How the Artificial Pancreas Works

The artificial pancreas is made up of three elements that work together to monitor and regulate blood sugar levels. The three elements are a glucose sensor, a computer and an insulin pump. The glucose sensor monitors blood sugar levels and sends the information to the computer which uses the data to determine the required amount of insulin needed to maintain normal blood sugar levels. The computer activates the insulin pump to deliver the required dose of insulin.

Future of the Artificial Pancreas

The technology to create the artificial pancreas exists. A fully automated artificial pancreas in being tested in clinical trials in France. So far the results of the clinical trial show a lot of promise. The artificial pancreas is not perfect, but is showing to be more accurate and efficient than current methods of manual blood sugar monitoring and insulin injections. The biggest obstacle is designing components of the artificial pancreas that will have a long life. The device is designed to be implanted underneath the patient’s skin. Expense and patient comfort would dictate that the device would need to last a significant length of time to be considered a viable solution. Scientists are continually working on solutions and predict that the artificial pancreas will be available to consumers in as few as four years.