Monday, June 24, 2013

An Artificial Pancreas is Near! How Technology Can Make or Break Our Lives

My opinion:  Though this pump seems to be more like a regular insulin monitor, I believe that it is an important step in the process for curing diabetes.  Even if this pump isn't the real thing (a replacement pancreas), I think it can potentially give patients the feeling as if they were free of diabetes.  According to the World Health Organization, to be healthy is not merely to be free of illness, but it is also to be satisfied with life in general.  By making a pump that essentially runs itself, and is mostly invisible, patients may treat themselves like people without diabetes, for example, by widening their choices of food, and by paying attention to their daily activities, instead of the pump's monitor.  With more freedom, there are fewer reasons to worry.  Hence, the pump doesn't just heal a physiological disease - it can, in a sense, heal the soul.  Perhaps this is not a real pancreas, but it does help diabetics develop a real peace of mind.  In other words, every little step definitely counts toward an improved patient experience.  Until we can grow biological pancreases, this should do for now.  Are there any other examples of when a technological change in a medical device transformed lives?  Feel free to comment.


Doctors make progress toward 'artificial pancreas'

Doctors are reporting a major step toward an "artificial pancreas," a device that would constantly monitor blood sugar in people with diabetes and automatically supply insulin as needed.
A key component of such a system _ an insulin pump programmed to shut down if blood-sugar dips too low while people are sleeping _ worked as intended in a three-month study of 247 patients.
This "smart pump," made by Minneapolis-based Medtronic Inc., is already sold in Europe, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reviewing it now. Whether it also can be programmed to mimic a real pancreas and constantly adjust insulin based on continuous readings from a blood-sugar monitor requires more testing, but doctors say the new study suggests that's a realistic goal.
"This is the first step in the development of the artificial pancreas," said Dr. Richard Bergenstal, diabetes chief at Park Nicollet, a large clinic in St. Louis Park, Minn. "Before we said it's a dream. We have the first part of it now and I really think it will be developed."


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