Determined to make a difference in the life of his son and others affected by Type 1 diabetes, biomedical engineer Ed Damiano has created a system he’s calling a “bionic pancreas” to take away the stress and guesswork that often comes with having to manually regulate ones own blood sugar. From npr:
“It’s intimidating when you start considering the list of things that influence blood sugar,” he says. “Emotions and physical activity, if you’re healthy. You can’t possibly take into account and balance all those things. And sometimes you get it right. And often you get it wrong.”
Damiano has developed a system he calls a “bionic pancreas” designed to help people better manage their blood sugar. He’s racing to get it approved by the Food and Drug Administration before his son leaves for college in three years.
In tests with 52 teenagers and adults, the device did a better job controlling blood sugar than the subjects typically did on their own. The results were reported Sunday at an American Diabetes Association meeting in San Francisco and also published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
At the moment, Damiano’s system is basically a sophisticated app that runs on an iPhone. The iPhone is connected wirelessly to the kind of blood sugar monitor that many people with diabetes wear taped to their abdomens.
The app analyzes the data from the monitor and sends signals wirelessly to two pumps that are similar to devices many diabetes patients wear to infuse themselves with insulin. In this case, one pump contains insulin and the other contains glucagon, a different hormone that raises blood sugar when it gets too low.
“The bionic pancreas is a device that automatically takes care of your blood sugars 24/7,” Damiano says. “It’s a device that comes to know you.”