Artificial Pancreas Hope For Diabetics

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 - 8:48am

Researchers believe artificial organ could regulate blood sugar.

There's an assortment of items people with diabetes use to monitor their blood sugar and get insulin into their bodies.

Dr. Wayne Bequette, a professor of chemical and biological engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is involved in a project that would eliminate that.

He's working on the development of an artificial pancreas, one that would both monitor blood sugar and administer insulin.

Right now it takes a number of large pieces of equipment that.

Bequette hopes that one day all will be married into one small, wearable unit.

It's already passed the first testing hurdle, keeping a small number of test patient's blood sugar normal during the night.

"If you're the parents of a child with type 1 diabetes" says Bequette "That's one of the biggest concerns overnight, you don't know what's happening to your child's blood glucose."

"It fills me with great hope" says Dr. Gregg Gerrity, about the work on an artificial pancreas.

Dr. Gerrity is both a diabetes patient and as an endocrinologist who treats people with diabetes.

It's imperative blood sugar levels aren't allowed to swing wildly.

That can cause an array of health problems including vision loss, heart disease and even death.

The work at RPI is especially encouraging for him, even though it may be years before a workable model comes to market.

"You know, I sort of tear up just thinking about that because it's so significant," he says.

The actual unit is being developed at Stanford University.

Dr. Bequette is doing the math that will be used in the computer program.

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