photo source

Diabetes is a chronic disease of the body’s inability to control blood sugar leading to, among other issues, amputations, vision loss, cardiovascular problems and nerve damage. Those with Type I diabetes often are born with the disease, and are diagnosed because of uncontrolled glucose levels and the inability of the pancreas to produce insulin, which is a hormone that helps to pull sugar out of the bloodstream and convert it to usable energy. The pancreas also produces the hormone glucagon, which works conversely of insulin and increases glucose levels in the body.

Those with type I diabetes must constantly monitor their body’s blood sugar and regulate it by sticking a needle into their body to deliver insulin. This old method is thankfully being upgraded according to a bionic pancreas whose effectiveness was confirmed in a study recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine, carried out by researchers at Boston University and Massachusetts General Hospital.

In two similar studies performed, adolescents and adults (over 21) were given a bihormonal (insulin and glucagon) pancreas to test which required only an iPhone and small subcutaneous device to deliver injections. Over 5 days, subjects were encouraged to eat and drink as normal while the device monitored their body’s response to meals. The device itself involved an iPhone which ran an algorithm which monitored glucose levels, and commanded the hardware interface to deliver specific levels of insulin or glucagon as needed through subcutaneous injection. Amazingly, this system updates every five minutes and adjusts hormone level as needed.

While this system is not for home sale yet, with such positive outcomes it will hopefully be on the consumer market soon.