Diabetics may be the first to meld with Machines
There is good news for people with type 1 diabetes, there s a new device that will help them control insulin levels. The MiniMed 670G is the first bionic pancreas to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Medtronic, the Minneapolis-based company that makes the device, started taking pre-orders earlier this year and it started shipping the device to patients last month. The MiniMed is a milestone for machine-mediated disease management, however, it is definitely not a cure because patients still have to program in their meals, adjust their blood sugar targets when they want to exercise, and change out the sensor every week. Bruce Buckingham, a pediatric endocrinologist at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford who helped run Medtronic’s pivotal clinical trial for the MiniMed 670G, states:
It really decreases the variability patients see in their glucose values. If you or your child has ever had a severe low overnight, it’s something you don’t ever forget. This lets parents and kids actually get a good night’s sleep.
There are currently about 1.2 million people living in the U.S. with type 1 diabetes, and most of them wear a sensor that continuously monitors the glucose in their systems and a pump to deliver insulin when they need it. This traditional type of system requires the patient to manually tell the device when to deliver insulin, where as the MiniMed is a hybrid closed loop system that micro doses insulin in response to constant and precise glucose measurements using algorithms. The personalized algorithms get to know the patient’s insulin processing patterns over the first few days of using it and keep the pump much busier than traditional systems. The goal of scientists is to develop a so-called closed loop system, where a computer does 100 percent of the work so that patients do not need to worry about taking the right amount of insulin. Again, the MiniMed 670G is not a cure for type 1 diabetes, but it sure is a big step in helping people with the disease to have more freedom and it will ultimately meld people with machines.