cartoon of artificial pancreas technology

Artificial Pancreas: Miracle for Type 1 Diabetes?

Needle sticks and test strips could soon be a thing of the past for those with type 1 diabetes. The cutting edge technology of an artificial pancreas first came onto the market last year from Medtronic with other medical technology companies like Insulet, Dexcom, and TypeZero working on their own models now. This FDA-approved technology can help patients regulate their blood sugar more painlessly and help them see trends of how eating, exercising, and sleeping affect their blood sugar throughout the day.

How it works

Type 1 diabetes happens when the pancreas fails to produce the appropriate amount of insulin, a hormone needed to convert food into energy. An artificial pancreas works by constantly monitoring blood sugar with a continuous glucose monitor alongside an insulin pump that processes data to deliver the perfect amount of insulin. It works in a closed-loop system, meaning the devices communicate with one another and there is little need for human intervention. Those with type 1 diabetes may be accustomed to pin pricks and needle sticks for insulin injections, but this technology could help patients avoid this painful step to stabilizing blood sugar.


Who it’s for

This technology is especially promising for parents of children with type 1 diabetes who fear dangerous middle-of-the-night blood sugar drops that could result in a coma or hospitalization if left untreated. However, those with type 1 diabetes only account for 10% of people afflicted with diabetes. The other 90% consists of those with type 2 diabetes who will not be able to benefit from this technology just yet, although researchers are working to make this a reality for everyone with diabetes.