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Researchers Test The Latest Version of Bionic Pancreas Device

Update Date: Jun 16, 2014 09:09 AM EDT

Researchers have successfully tested the latest version of a bionic pancreas device that imposes minimal restrictions on patient activities. The test was carried out in two five-day clinical trials - one in adults and other in adolescents. 

"In both of these studies this device far exceeded our expectations in terms of its ability to regulate glucose, prevent hypoglycemia and automatically adapt to the very different needs of adults - some of whom were very insulin-sensitive - and adolescents, who typically need higher insulin doses," said Edward Damiano, PhD, of the BU Department of Biomedical Engineering, principal investigator of the project and senior author of the NEJM report, in the press release. "There's no current standard-of-care therapy that could match the results we saw."

"One of the key virtues of this device is its ability to start controlling the blood sugar instantly, based only on the patient's weight, and continually adapt its decision making regarding insulin and glucagon dosing to handle a wide range of dosing requirements," added Firas El-Khatib, PhD, of the BU Department of Biomedical Engineering.

El-Khatib also co-designed the bionic pancreas device.

Researchers added that the key element with the current version of the device is that it's wearable which allows patients to stay something close to their usual environments, exercise and eat whatever they want. 

"The most practical difference would be not having to think about diabetes 24/7, not having to constantly make decisions about things that those of us without type 1 never have to think about. Another real problem that would be relieved is the fear - fear of going to bed at night and not knowing if your blood sugar level will drop dangerously low while you sleep. Even our study participants, who controlled their blood sugars significantly better than national averages on their usual care, ran high levels overnight but still had significant episodes of hypoglycemia," Damiano added whose 15-year-old son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 11 months.

The study results have been reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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