Doctor: Bionic Pancreas Nears Use for Type 1 Diabetes

Monday, 23 Jun 2014 06:13 PM

By Jennifer G. Hickey

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Dr. Steven J. Russell, one of the physicians involved in the development of a bionic pancreas, says the groundbreaking medical device could be available to patients with Type I diabetes in less than three years.

Physicians at Massachusetts General Hospital announced on June 15 that the latest version of a bionic pancreas, which employs a sophisticated computer program working together with several other diabetes management devices, was successfully tested in two five-day clinical trials.

The device would require "a lot less effort from the user than the current way of managing diabetes, and it achieves much better blood glucose control and is safer," Russell told MidPoint host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV.

"Something like this is a long time coming and something that people with diabetes would eagerly look to have," he added Monday.

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The impetus for the bionic pancreas was Ed Damiano, one of Russell's colleagues, whose son was diagnosed at 11 months old with diabetes. Russell said that "really changed the direction of Ed's career. He started working on this project almost exclusively."

As the system moves from the research lab to the marketplace, Russell says the main challenge will be encouraging insurance companies to cover the reimbursement costs.

He is confident approval will come quickly because the heaviest cost for diabetes stems from the complications and "this system can provide the kind of blood glucose control that will prevent those complications."

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