A bionic pancreas could help treat people who suffer from type 1 diabetes.
The "wearable technology" was developed by researchers from Boston University and Massachusetts General Hospital, Mashable reported. The Bionic Pancreas takes on many of the duties of a real pancreas, regulating insulin and glucagon.
"When someone has diabetes they need to sleep and when they sleep they can't take care of their blood sugar," said Edward R. Damiano, associate professor at Boston University.
Damiano's involvement in the project is more than just professional – his 13-year-old son is diabetic: "My goal was to get something in David's hands before he leaves for college."
The system utilizes an iPhone and infusion pumps, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. The iPhone ran a control algorithm and a glucose monitor that was connected through a custom hardware interface. Damiano demonstrates how data was fed into the iPhone in a Youtube video attached to this post.
Damiano said the goal is to, hopefully, present the device to the Food and Drug Administration for approval sometime in 2016.
The New England Journal of Medicine reported the results of two out-patient trials involving the Bionic Pancreas. The study included 52 patients broken into two groups – adults and adolescents.
"Among adolescents, the diabetes care during the control period led to better mean glycemic control than the patients had at home on the basis of their glycated hemoglobin levels at screening," the study stated.
The study noted several limitations the device has to overcome. For example, "There were intermittent problems with wireless connectivity that caused isolated missed doses of insulin and glucagon."
The study concludes, however, that despite the challenges the two short-term outpatient trials resulted in "better glycemic control than with the current standard of care."