THAT'S one. (A pancreas.)
image from Creative Commons
Medicine: Type 1 Diabetes.
An artificial pancreas really is just over SOME horizon now. An announcement from Cambridge (article in the Lancet) describes the fine work of Dr Roman Hovorka at the University of Cambridge, working with a group of seventeen diabetic kids.
A cure for diabetes would be nice, of course. And there are some intriguing hints but, for now, an artificial pancreas would be stunning enough.
If it works out (and if it is widely accepted), this development has the potential to greatly reduce the complications of the disease, ease peoples’ lives, and reduce health care costs significantly (Wouldn’t THAT be nice?).
Back to which horizon this is over.
It’s hard for MISTER ScienceAintSoBad to say this but, once again, this is only a tantalizing possibility of something that is badly needed. We ARE a lot closer, thanks to the great work being done. Maybe as little are three, four or five years.
Karen Addington (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) says this is a “proof of principle” and that we “need to redouble our efforts.”
I’m not sure that’s what we want to hear. But reality IS so darn real, isn’t it?
ScienceAintSoBadRating = 9
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Karen Addington was nice enough (and ubiquitous enough) to leave a comment which I am duplicating below since it addresses the question of when this device might really hit the road. Notice that her motivation is personal.
Thanks for picking up on this new research.
We know that developments like the artificial pancrease can’t come quickly enough for people living with type 1 diabetes, and their families. That’s why we’re working really hard to make sure that the artificial pancreas becomes a reality as soon as possible. In January my colleagues at JDRF International (based in the USA) announced a partnership with Animas (a Johnson & Johnson company that manufactures pumps) to develop a first generation artificial pancreas.
The goal is to develop a system that can prevent the extremes of both hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia automatically – but will still need some input from the wearer, such as informing the system of meal times and periods of exercise.
This partnership is planned for four years and by the end we hope to reach the point where it will ready to go forward for approval by regulatory bodies like the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMEA), and from there to people with type 1.
I have had type 1 diabetes for 30 years, and I’m really excited about what this research could soon mean for me, and everyone else with type 1.