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Artificial Pancreas Prototype in Development for Type 1 Diabetics
Date:1/13/2010

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation partners with Johnson & Johnson for medical first

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 13 (HealthDay News) -- The first version of an artificial pancreas -- a potentially revolutionary way to manage insulin delivery in people with type 1 diabetes -- may be available in as little as four years.

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) announced Wednesday that it's partnering with Johnson & Johnson's insulin pump division, Animas Corp., to begin development of the first artificial pancreas system. The goal is to have a prototype ready for regulatory review in about four years.

This device would combine existing pump therapy and continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) technology with sophisticated computer algorithms to help prevent dangerous, potentially life-threatening low blood sugar levels, as well as to help prevent complication-inducing high blood sugar levels.

"The artificial pancreas is one of the largest projects we've ever invested in," Alan Lewis, president and CEO of JDRF, said of the nonprofit's $8 million investment.

"We're optimistic that it will transform the way people with diabetes manage their blood sugar and reduce the risk of complications while we wait for a cure," Lewis said during a press conference announcing the partnership.

The artificial pancreas would primarily benefit people with type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disorder that destroys the body's ability to manufacture insulin. People with type 1 diabetes must replace that lost insulin through injections, either with shots or by using an insulin pump. However, it's difficult to know exactly how much insulin you need, and people with diabetes must constantly check their blood sugar to make sure it's not too high or too low. Numerous factors, such as exercise, illness and even stress, can affect blood sugar levels.

"Even the most sophisticated people with diabetes only spend 30 perce
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