On Wednesday, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation officially announced that it is teaming up with Animas Corporation to develop the very first Artificial Pancreas. This has been in the works for a very long time! They’ve been doing proof-of-concept studies for years including one here at the University of Virginia.
The device is going to be developed over the next few months and “should” be starting clinical trials by the end of the year. Depending on the difficulty it could be on the market in 4 years!
The term “artificial pancreas” is a little misleading I think. The first version of this system will not be fully automatic like the name suggests. It will have some sort of predictive algorithm to help prevent high and low blood sugars. But if it still requires any kid of human input can it really be called an artificial pancreas?
I also think that the term is a bit misleading to people who don’t understand how it works. I’ve already read several posts on message boards and Facebook groups proclaiming that the cure is here. I cannot reiterate enough that this IS NOT a cure! A cure to me means that I am no longer diabetic. I no longer need to have insulin injected into my skin. Therefore, in any form, this artificial pancreas should not be considered a cure.
In fact, calling it a cure could prevent an actual cure. If the world believes there is a cure, then they will stop pushing for the real cure. For example, when insulin discovered it was announced as being the cure for diabetes. I suppose at the time it was the cure because it kept people from dying. However, we now know that it is definitely not the cure. Yet, according to the ADA 1 in 10 people think that diabetes is cured and 19% aren’t even sure if it is!
I know that there also a lot of people who are upset that JDRF is giving money to this project instead of an actual cure. In response to these concerns I would like to point out that one of JDRF’s missions has always been to improve treatment until there is a cure. For example, it was JDRF who funded more CGM studies to ensure that insurance companies would cover it more widely.
I would not call the artificial pancreas the cure. I sincerely and truly and wholeheartedly believe that it is a huge step forward in more effective treatments that will keep all of us alive and healthy until there is a cure.