Doctors Make Artificial Pancreas App

People with Type 1 diabetes may one day not have to pass on ice cream, candy bars, and other forbidden snacks. Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have developed an artificial pancreas that consists of a pump that releases insulin and glucagon and a glucose-monitoring system that is controlled by an iPhone app. So far, this bionic organ seems to work. A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine examined what happened when 52 adults and teenagers used the experimental device while on a “diabetes vacation,” meaning they ate whatever sugary foods they wanted. After five days, their blood-sugar levels were better than when they used traditional treatments. As encouraging as the data is, there are still concerns that need to be tackled, including what would happen if the pump fails or patients become overly lax in their self-care. Dr. Howard Wolpert, director of the Institute for Technology Translation at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, reviewed the study before it was published. He said, “They climbed a flight of stairs but now the next stage will be like climbing a hill or even a mountain.”