Artificial pancreas for diabetics heads to trial; seen as a 'wearable network'

A new, technology-enabled artificial pancreas is not like your previous replica organ; the system will help with automated insulin delivery and can even connect with a smartphone.

Soon, researchers will conduct trials on the artificial pancreas' ability to regulate blood-sugar levels in people with Type 1 diabetes. It will be one of the largest-ever long-term clinical trials of such a system, according to a report in the Harvard Gazette.

The Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the University of Virginia School of Medicine developed the system with monetary support from the National Institutes of Health. There will be two trials conducted, one by Harvard and one by UVA, which will span 420 patients at nine sites in the U.S. and Europe for six months.

"Our foremost goal is to establish a new diabetes treatment paradigm: the artificial pancreas is not a single-function device; it is an adaptable, wearable network surrounding the patient in a digital treatment ecosystem," Boris Kovatchev, director of the UVA Center for Diabetes Technology, said in an announcement.

The system will include an insulin pump, glucose monitor and algorithm software embedded in a smartphone, according to the announcement.

Some of the sites where the trials will be conducted include: Mount Sinai Hospital in New York; the Mayo Clinic; Stanford University; the University of Colorado; the University of Padua, Italy; and the Regional University Hospital Center of Montpellier, France.

As obesity rates in the U.S. continue to climb, so, too, will the number of patients who have diabetes. Health IT has been used in many different ways to address the disease, and the artificial pancreas is just one more way providers are trying to battle the condition.

To learn more:|
- here's the Harvard Gazette report
- read's the UVA announcement