Bionic Pancreas Better for Managing Type 1 Diabetes

Clinical trial finds automated insulin delivery device, iLet, helps adults and kids maintain healthier blood glucose levels

By Andrew Thurston

Your pancreas is like a little digestive engine, working hard to keep your body fueled and running. Just six inches long, it’s responsible for turning lunch into the energy that gets you through the afternoon and making sure your blood sugars stay balanced.

Ed Damiano (BME)

But in people with type 1 diabetes, the pancreas fails in the second job. The organ—nestled behind the stomach—doesn’t produce enough insulin, a hormone necessary for converting and storing sugars. Without it, those sweet carbs can’t enter cells, leaving sugars stuck in the bloodstream and people with type 1 diabetes feeling thirsty, hungry, and tired. In the long term, diabetes can cause heart disease and damage the eyes, kidneys, feet, and skin. Patients have to constantly monitor their blood sugar levels and inject insulin in an attempt—often not completely successful—to keep them in check.

There’s no cure for type 1 diabetes. But a bionic pancreas, developed in the lab of Professor Ed Damiano (BME), and in the works for almost 20 years, is moving closer to giving the nearly two million Americans with the chronic disease fresh hope. In a study published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found the wearable automated insulin delivery device, iLet, was better at managing blood glucose levels than existing standard-of-care methods.

Read the full story on Boston University’s The Brink.