Science & tech

Will an artificial pancreas be a gamechanger for type 1 diabetes?

In December 2019, French start-up Diabeloop announced they had secured €31m Series B funding (a record for a European therapeutic AI company). Its device, which has been described as an ‘artificial pancreas’, uses artificial intelligence to automate and personalise treatment for patients with type 1 diabetes. Abi Millar finds out more. 

For patients with type 1 diabetes, managing their condition can be an ongoing battle. Patients need regular blood glucose monitoring, daily insulin treatment and constant vigilance, on top of maintaining an otherwise healthy lifestyle.

The condition usually starts in childhood and makes up around 5%-10% of all diabetes cases, with a global prevalence of up to 20 million. An autoimmune disease, it occurs when the immune system attacks beta cells in the pancreas, meaning the body can no longer produce enough insulin. Treatment focuses on keeping blood glucose around the normal range, avoiding the dangerous extremes of hypo- and hyperglycaemia.

For many type 1 diabetes patients, their treatment regime can seriously curb their quality of life. Because the condition has to be monitored so precisely, it can mean sacrificing spontaneity and a sense of freedom.

Read the rest of this article in the June 2020 edition of Medical Technology

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