The artificial pancreas has just been approved by the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Patients with type 1 diabetes cannot make insulin because their pancreas has been damaged by their own immune system, and have to have external insulin supplied to them. An insulin pump can provide insulin constantly through a needle that is secured just under the skin and typically lasts for 3 days. The problem had always been that patients can get hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, especially during the night or during vigorous exercise.
Now the FDA had approved a new Medtronic pump that also has a sensor which can switch off the pump when the patient’s sugar drops too low. This pump now behaves like our real pancreas: provide insulin when the sugar is high, stopping insulin when sugar is low. However, it is not fully automated: unlike our body which knows how much carbohydrates we have taken, the pump user still needs to enter the amount manually into the machine.
Nonetheless this is a much safer machine than the old ones. Hopefully it will be brought to Singapore soon!