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The Schmooze

Diabetic Israeli Children Test Artificial Pancreas

An artificial pancreas was taken for a test drive recently in Israel. This new technology, if it proves successful, could be a huge breakthrough in diabetes care and control.

“A Sweet Life,” a website for healthy living with diabetes, reported that 18 children in Israel were gathered at Kibbutz Ma’aleh Hahamisha to participate in the world’s first out-of-hospital artificial pancreas trial. The study was led by two doctors from the Schneider Children’s Medical Center of Israel: Prof. Moshe Phillip of the Institute of Endocrinology and Diabetes, and and Eran Atlas of the Diabetes Technology Institute.

The kids were testing out Schneider’s MD-Logic system, which allows real-time control of blood glucose levels based on readings from a continuous glucose sensor. While insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors (both of which are worn attached to the body via cannulas) have made things much easier in recent years for diabetics, there is still a need for the diabetic him or herself (or for a caregiver in the case of a young child or incapacitated senior) to do blood-sugar testing and figure out insulin dosing based on the information provided by the two devices.

MD-Logic, essentially a laptop computer that the kids carried around in a backpack or left on a nightstand when they were asleep, was like a brain that connected the two devices and did all the work for them. Neither they nor their caregivers needed to calculate or manually direct the pumps to deliver the correct amount of insulin.

At least that was how it was supposed to work if the trial ran perfectly. The children were observed and their data monitored at every moment during the day and night, allowing for manual intervention to correct any glitches. According to “A Sweet Life,” the artificial pancreas is not quite ready for prime time, but once it is, it will allow diabetics to get as close as possible to having a functioning pancreas.

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