"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

“Bionic pancreas” could help individuals with type 1 diabetes control blood sugar.

I take my pancreas without any consideration. It pumps insulin after I eat. This hormone helps blood sugar enter my cells. When I haven't eaten for some time, my pancreas makes one other hormone called glucagon that keeps my blood sugar from getting too low.

People with type 1 diabetes don't have that luxury. But someday they could be, due to bionic pancreases developed at Boston University and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Initial tests of the device, reported online this week. New England Journal of MedicineIt helped control blood sugar levels in 20 adults and 32 teenagers with type 1 diabetes who went about their each day lives without the constant monitoring and injections that type 1 diabetes requires.

At the moment, this artificial pancreas is largely an app that runs on an iPhone that’s connected to a monitor worn on the stomach that consistently checks blood sugar and two pumps, one for insulin and one for glucagon. Took

Here's how the system works: An app on the phone tracks blood sugar. When blood sugar starts to rise, the app prompts a pump to release insulin. If blood sugar drops too low, it signals one other pump to release glucagon. This mainly occurs in a healthy body.

Managing type 1 diabetes now and in the long run

Type 1 diabetes is what’s often known as an autoimmune disease. It occurs when the body mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy cells within the pancreas that make insulin and glucagon. People with type 1 diabetes should check their blood sugar usually and provides themselves insulin. Until recently, testing was done by pricking a finger and putting blood on a small strip inserted right into a meter, and injecting insulin. Today, an increasing number of individuals with type 1 diabetes are checking blood sugar using sensors worn on the stomach and delivering insulin through an implanted pump.

For Damiano, the work is personal: as a 15-year-old son who has had type 1 diabetes since childhood.

Many researchers world wide are searching for a cure for type 1 diabetes. There continues to be no end in sight to this search. But the event of a bionic pancreas represents a bridge that enables individuals with type 1 diabetes to manage their blood sugar with less hassle and more safely than they’ll now.