The Endocrinology and Diabetes Department at the Schneider Children's Medical Center of Israel has won a $7 million grant for research comparing two artificial pancreas systems developed by Medtronic. One of the systems is already on the market; the other is a next-generation system that includes technology developed at Schneider in cooperation with Israeli company DreamMed.
The grant is from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) in partnership with the International Diabetes Center (IDC) in Minneapolis. Schneider received a $2 million grant last year for the same purpose.
Last September, Medtronic, a leader in the development of an artificial pancreas, became the first company to put a product on the market with this description. The trial, which will include 100 patients, will compare the existing system to the new system that includes Israeli technology.
"Artificial pancreas" is the term used for a system containing both a sensor that continuously monitors the level of sugar in the blood and an insulin pump that continuously receives data from the sensor and provides insulin to maintain blood sugar levels within a safe range, with no excess or shortage. In effect, this is what the beta cells in a healthy pancreas do. In juvenile (Type I) diabetes patients, these cells do not function at all, while they function only partially in adult (Type II) diabetes patients.
As of now, a diabetes patient performs the function of the pancreas by himself. He measures his blood sugar level, calculates by himself how much insulin he needs, and injects himself with insulin or plans the desired amount in a "non-smart" pump. The patient's calculation is not continuous; it takes place only at intervals, and is also very disruptive of the patient's daily life. The patient's calculations are also less sophisticated than those of a computerized device with a learning algorithm like the one included in the two versions of the artificial pancreas.
"We all hope that in addition to further improving the safety of glucose in the bloodstream, the advanced artificial pancreas system will also cause a real improvement in the quality of life for young people and adults, so that they will be able to concentrate more on their lives and less on the disease, and make the most of their lives," said Dr. Moshe Phillip, a doctor at Schneider.
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on March 22, 2017
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