Towards an Artificial Pancreas

It will be possible to replace the functions of some organs with machines in the near future, this advance accomplished on much the same timescale as the creation of tissue engineered replacement organs: "An artificial pancreas system that closely mimics the body's blood sugar control mechanism was able to maintain near-normal glucose levels without causing hypoglycemia in a small group of patients. The system, combining a blood glucose monitor and insulin pump technology with software that directs administration of insulin and the blood-sugar-raising hormone glucagon, was developed at Boston University (BU). The first clinical trial of the system was conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and confirmed the feasibility of an approach utilizing doses of both hormones ... Large doses of glucagon are used as a rescue drug for people with severely low blood sugar. Our system is designed to counteract moderate drops in blood sugar with minute doses of glucagon spread out throughout the day, just as the body does in people without diabetes." The future for this sort of technology is one of miniaturization, falling cost, and the possibility of incorporation into the body as an implanted device.



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