This morning JDRF announced that it will be working together with Animas, a Johnson & Johnson company, and Dexcom to develop the first generation artificial pancreas. It marks a big step to have a major non-profit partnering with private industry to bring cutting edge JDRF research to patients worldwide.
By teaming with major pharmaceutical companies, the artificial pancreas will be able to effectively go through the clinical trials process, FDA approval and get quickly distributed in the marketplace to reach T1 patients who need the device.
The key point you should note is this: collaboration between industry, charities and volunteers is making cures and therapeutics happen. Only by working TOGETHER will we find a cure for type-1 diabetes.
Here are some details from the official JDRF press release that describe the Artificial Pancreas:
The first-generation system would be partially automated, utilizing an insulin pump connected wirelessly with a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). The CGM continuously reads glucose levels through a sensor with a hair-thin sensor wire inserted just below the skin, typically on the abdomen. The sensor would transmit those readings to the insulin pump, which delivers insulin through a small tube or patch on the body. The pump would house a sophisticated computer program that will address safety concerns during the day and night, by helping prevent hypoglycemia and extreme hyperglycemia. It would slow or stop insulin delivery if it detected blood sugar was going too low and would increase insulin delivery if blood sugar was too high. For example, the system would automatically discontinue insulin delivery to help prevent hypoglycemia, and then automatically resume insulin delivery based on a specific time interval (i.e., 2 hours) and/or glucose concentration. It will also automatically increase insulin delivery to reduce the amount of time spent in the hyperglycemic range and return to a pre-set basal rate once glucose concentrations have returned to acceptable levels.
In this early version of an automated diabetes management system, the patient would still need to manually instruct the pump to deliver insulin at times, (i.e. around meals). But this “hypoglycemia-hyperglycemia minimizer” system would represent a significant step forward in diabetes management, and could provide immediate benefits in terms of blood sugar control, by minimizing dangerous highs and lows.