Cambridge University is currently developing one of the leading artificial pancreas projects.
What is an artificial pancreas?
There may be different approaches to creating an artificial pancreas but the most popular approach is a ‘closed-loop insulin delivery system’, also referred to as a closed loop artificial pancreas.
The artificial pancreas being developed by Cambridge University is made up of an externally worn insulin pump which communicates by radio waves to a continuous glucose monitor worn as a patch on the skin.
How does an artificial pancreas work?
The glucose monitor measures the person’s blood sugar levels and the result is fed into a small computer which calculates how much insulin (if any) needs to be delivered by the insulin pump which delivers the dosage into the body, completing the cycle.
It’s the calculation stage that has presented the biggest challenge so far.
How close is an artificial pancreas to being a reality?
Cambridge University’s closed loop artificial pancreas has been developed and has also been tested on humans under controlled conditions.
Studies showed that the artificial pancreas system was able to increase the amount of time study participants spent in the right blood glucose level range by 22%.
Can I get an artificial pancreas?
The system is still being tested for safety and has yet to be used in non-controlled conditions. Therefore the artificial pancreas is not available for public trials yet. The next step for the researchers is to test the technology on a larger number of people.