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Australian Boy Gets World’s First Artificial Pancreas

Patient wears small, external insulin pump

A 4-year-old Australian boy has been fitted with an artificial pancreas in what researchers said was a “world first” treatment for managing type-1 diabetes.

The boy became the first patient following clinical trials to use the new device, which looks like an mp3 player and is attached to his body using several tubes inserted under the skin.

The insulin-pump system is meant to replace the need to closely manage the effect of the disease, such as through daily injections.

It wasn’t clear when the procedure was carried out.

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, a non-profit organization that funded the research, said the technology tracks glucose levels and stops insulin delivery up to 30 minutes before a predicted hypoglycemic attack occurs. The attacks are sparked by low glucose levels and mostly take place at night, when patients may not be able to react to or recognize the potentially fatal episode, said Professor Tim Jones of the Princess Margaret Hospital for Children in Perth, Australia, where the boy was fitted with the system.

“This device can predict hypoglycemia before it happens and stop insulin delivery before a predicted event,” Jones said in a statement. “This, coupled with the fact that the pump automatically resumes insulin [delivery] when glucose levels recover, is a real medical breakthrough.”

The device was developed after 5 years of clinical trials at the Princess Margaret Hospital for Children and at other Australian hospitals. It is reported to cost about US $8,100.

Source: Medical Xpress; January 22, 2015.

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