4-Year-Old Boy Receives World’s First Artificial Pancreas

Posted by on January 29, 2015 in Sci-Tech, Technology with 0 Comments
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Lisa Winter |  IFLScience

artificial pancreasIn 2013 alone, over 79,000 children around the globe were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes: an autoimmune disorder that affects the amount of insulin produced by the pancreas. Receiving insulin therapy through a traditional pump or injections can require a lot of work to ensure blood sugar levels are safe, particularly during the night. A tremendous step forward has been made in the treatment of this disease when a 4-year-old boy from Australia was fitted with the world’s first commercially-available artificial pancreas which automatically regulates his insulin levels.

With the device managing insulin output, diabetics who typically test their blood sugar up to eight times a day will need to do so less frequently.

Xavier Hames from Perth received the device from Princess Margaret Hospital for Children, where he has been receiving treatment for his diabetes since he was 22 months old. This is also where clinical trials for the device have been ongoing for several years. Xavier is the first person to receive the pump commercially, which is available for AUS$10,000 (US$8,100).

The artificial pancreas features a sensor that reads blood sugar levels and communicates to the pump, which is connected to the body underneath the skin to administer the insulin. Unlike traditional pumps, this new technology does not deliver a constant stream of insulin to the body. Instead, the artificial pancreas uses an algorithm to track blood sugar levels over time, predicting when insulin is no longer required. This reduces the risk of dangerously low blood sugar levels, known as hypoglycemia.

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