A new method for carrying insulin has been approved by the FDA. Known informally as an artificial pancreas, the system is the size of a standard smartphone. When attached to the body, the system monitors the insulin levels of Type-1 Diabetics and then delivers insulin if the levels go below the safety threshold. Titled the Medtronic MiniMed 670G system, it will be available for type-1 diabetes patients with a minimum age of 14 years.
Several experts have hailed the approval from the FDA, as it facilitates treatment of the condition in a more effective way. The device will not be available off the counter. After receiving a prescription and getting the device, patients can start using it. There are three main components of the system, which include
- An insulin pump, which is attached to the body via a strap
- A glucose meter, which is an electrode implanted into the skin
- An infusion patch, which delivers insulin to the pancreas via a catheter and is connected to the insulin pump
This allows for constant regulation of the insulin levels of the patient. A reading is taken every 5 minutes, which ensures there are no major fluctuations and that the health and safety of the patient is not compromised. The device has been designed to deliver insulin if the levels are below a certain level. If the insulin levels of the patient are stable and beyond a normal level, the device doesn’t administer insulin.
This is a major breakthrough for type-1 diabetics. There is no cure for the disease, though only 5% of diabetics actually have the type-1 variant. Because it is a major health condition, patients have to keep a constant check on their blood sugar level and then use insulin as and when needed. In addition, they have to monitor their diet. Imbalance in the blood sugar level can leave to diabetic coma, which can prove fatal.
There are a number of devices already available to help type-1 diabetes patients monitor their blood sugar levels. However, they still have to administer insulin to themselves or have someone do it. The artificial pancreas takes this hassle out of the equation by automating the process. Patients no longer have to worry about carrying insulin. The only thing patients have to handle manually is the level of bolus insulin, i.e. they have to add an extra dose when they consume a meal which leads to a spike in their blood sugar.
The FDA assessed data which was obtained from an extensive trial conducted on 123 people who suffer from type-1 diabetes. Initially, there was a risk that relying on the device could lead to hypoglycemia but no such concerns were reported at the conclusion of the trial. Moreover, no side effects were observed in the participants.
Though further testing is required to ensure the artificial pancreas functions seamlessly and delivers the desired result, it is a major breakthrough for type-1 diabetes treatment and management, one that was long awaited. According to the company, the device will be available to the public from January 2017.