Until this is achieved, we are developing and testing technology to reduce the impact of diabetes on those who live with it every day.
We are a collaborative group from Boston University and Massachusetts General Hospital working together to make automated blood glucose control a reality. Engineers from Boston University have developed a closed-loop artificial pancreas blood glucose control system that uses frequent measurements of blood glucose concentration along with subcutaneous delivery of both rapid-acting insulin and glucagon (to raise blood glucose, if necessary) as directed by a computer algorithm. The artificial endocrine pancreas automatically makes a new decision about insulin and glucagon dosing every five minutes. The system is being tested in people with type 1 diabetes at Massachusetts General Hospital, with results recently published in Science Translational Medicine (see Publications).
Achieving and maintaining near-normal blood glucose concentrations are critical for the long-term health of people with diabetes. Unfortunately, the therapy required to achieve this goal is extremely demanding, requiring frequent blood glucose checks and either multiple daily insulin injections or the use of an insulin pump. Even with current state-of-the-art insulin replacement, it is almost impossible to completely avoid hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia.
The development of a drug delivery device that responds to glucose concentrations to automatically avoid both high and low blood glucose, a so-called artificial endocrine pancreas, has been a long-term goal of diabetes therapy. Although it is well known that people with diabetes do not make enough insulin, it is also true that their pancreas does not release glucagon, a blood glucose-raising hormone, in response to hypoglycemia. Previous artificial pancreas designs did not include the capability to administer glucagon.