In the never-ending quest to become the world's first man-machine cyborg†, now there comes news of the development of what's being called a "bionic pancreas."
The device is being developed and tested on Type I diabetics.
According to a report Monday on NPR, Ed Damiano, Boston University biomedical associate professor began working on the device to treat his son, who was diagnosed with Type I diabetes when he was 11 months old.
It's not really an organ that gets implanted in the body, though. It's basically a sophisticated app that connects a continuous glucose monitor with a an insulin pump -- both devices that are commonly used, but usually separate from one another. A glucose monitor has a small needle that goes under the skin to continually monitor a person's blood sugar level. Th pump also inserts under the skin via a tiny needle and is programmed to deliver insulin at specific times or on demand.
The bionic pancreas, as Damiano calls it, simultaneously measures blood sugar levels and delivers insulin as needed.
"The bionic pancreas is a device that automatically takes care of your blood sugars 24/7. It's a device that comes to know you."
According to NPR, in tests with 52 teenagers and adults, the device did a better job controlling blood sugar than the subjects typically did on their own. The results were reported Sunday at an American Diabetes Association meeting in San Francisco and also published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
You can listen to the report below, or go to the report on NPR.org.
† - For the record, it's a tongue-in-cheek quest.