Issue 32 June 2011
3. Engineering New gadgets to defeat Juvenile Diabetes.

      Engineering researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has been creating progressively more advanced computer control systems for a closed-loop artificial pancreas for T1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes pancreas produces little or no insulin. As a result, they must inject insulin several times every day, or use an insulin pump and this insulin pumps requires lots of guess works. Thanks to the work by Professor B. Wayne Bequette, a member of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Rensselaer and team, the new artificial pancreas would remove the need for most of this guesswork.

      The device marries an insulin pump with a continuous blood glucose monitor, which work in conjunction with a feedback controller -- forming a "closed-loop." A diabetic would wear this device at all times, with a needle inserted just under the skin, in order to regulate his or her glucose levels. When the device senses the blood sugar getting high, it automatically administers insulin. Inversely, the device cuts off the insulin pump to avoid hypoglycaemia.

      The newest version of this device includes options for users to input their carbohydrate intake. Bequette said this should greatly boost the accuracy, reliability, and predictive capability of the device. Importantly, the device will still function if users forget to input their meal information.

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