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Artificial pancreas goes mainstream in 2017?
Diabetes affects more than 29 million Americans. It's a disease of the pancreas, an organ that, among other functions, monitors the body's blood sugar levels and releases the hormone insulin as needed to keep blood sugar under control.
Diabetes results from a malfunction in the pancreas, requiring people with the disease to monitor their own blood sugar levels and deliver insulin as needed, either through a hypodermic syringe or an insulin pump, which requires user input as to when and how much insulin to deliver.
In September 2016, a device from Medtronic gained FDA approval as the first artificial pancreas, an automated insulin pump that automatically carries out blood sugar detection and insulin delivery without the user needing to manually program a pump. It is designed around existing insulin pump technology but with an additional algorithms to automatically regulate blood sugar. This is a boon to people with diabetes, particularly for night-time insulin delivery.
Some human input is still required, but only for large meals, exercise, and recalibrating the device with manual blood sugar testing every 12 hours.
Medtronic's device is a milestone in diabetes therapy (and resolved a previous version of this question before it even got launched!), but the first artificial pancreas will be far from the last. A device made by Insulet, claims to go up to 72 hours with no user input. Other companies are developing their own devices as well.
As of September 2016, Insulet is still enrolling people to participate in its trial study in preparation for their own FDA application.
Will an artificial pancreas competitor secure FDA approval by the end of 2017?
For this question to resolve as positive, a device manufactured by a company other than Medtronic and intended to serve as an artificial pancreas that automatically delivers insulin based on sensor readings must appear on the FDA's recently approved devices list on or before Dec. 31, 2017.
(Updated 10/13/16 to add "that automatically delivers insulin based on sensor readings" to resolution criteria.)
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