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JDRF, Animas, and Dexcom Walk Into a Bar: Not a Diabetes Joke - An Artificial Pancreas.

Okay, so it's not a joke.  And it's not a bar.  But the JDRF, Animas, and DexCom have walked into a momumental agreement in efforts to create an artificial pancreas.

According to the press release, "The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation today announced an innovative partnership with Animas Corporation to develop an automated system to help people with type 1 diabetes better control their disease – the first step on the path to what would be among the most revolutionary advancements in treating type 1 diabetes: the development of an artificial pancreas, a fully automated system to dispense insulin to patients based on real-time changes in blood sugar levels."  

Alan Lewis, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of JDRF, is quoted in the release as saying, "JDRF will provide $8 million in funding over the next three years for this project, with a target of having a first-generation system ready for regulatory review within the next four or so years.” 

So what exactly would it mean to have an artificial pancreas?  More from the release:  “If successful, the development of this first-generation system would begin the process of automating how people with diabetes manage their blood sugar,” said Alan Lewis, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of JDRF.  'Ultimately, an artificial pancreas will deliver insulin as needed, minute-by-minute, throughout the day to maintain blood sugars within a target range.  But even this early system could bring dramatic changes in the quality of life for the 3 million people in the U.S. with type 1 diabetes, beginning to free kids and adults from testing, calculating and treating themselves throughout the day.'”  

Also, "DexCom, Inc., a leading manufacturer of CGM devices, will supply the CGM technology for the system to be developed by JDRF and Animas." 

I think this is a huge step forward for a new way of treating type 1 diabetes.  I've clocked over 204,360 hours with type 1 diabetes since my diagnosis over two decades ago, I've seen so many tremendous technological steps forward in treatment options for type 1.  Home glucose testing machines were "all the rage" when I was diagnosed, and there were only two or three insulin options for injection therapy.  Now, home meters are the norm, there are more insulin options and more insulin delivery options now than ever before, and continuous glucose monitors are part of my regular routine (versus before, if you had mentioned them to me as a kid, I would have thought you were from the moon). 

And now we're talking about an artificial pancreas?  A real one?  One that actually could be used in my lifetime, before I'm too old to care or too sick to benefit from it?  I believe this can happen, and I am so hopeful that these organizations and companies can make this a reality.

A cure is something I don't think much about.  It's something my heart has protectively hardened me against hoping for.  I know that reversing my body's inclination to attack its own islet cells could be a long time in coming.  What I do know is that I've been living with type 1 diabetes for almost my entire life, and I've battled hard to keep my body healthy and strong.  And now, I'm expecting a baby and have even more incentive to stay healthy for my child, so that I can be part of her life for a long, long time.  

If an artificial pancreas can help me minimize highs and lows in my blood sugars, that could help to protect my body from diabetes-related complications.  I could be safer.  My body could feel more "normal."  And my baby has a better chance of having me see her children born some day.

This press release has given me a reason to grin today.  And I'm excited to see how far these organizations can bring us all towards a better life with type 1 diabetes.

Comments

Now if only they could create it without tubing!

My husband and I never discuss a cure with our daughter. In fact I skip over that part when reading books to her about kids with diabetes (I really need to write my own book exactly as *I* would like it written!).

We only know the modern care since she was diagnosed less than 2 years ago. But my husband and I have always said that given how far treatment has come, just think of what it will be like in 10 years.

This is a step in the right direction.

Wow this is great! I try not to get my hopes up too much either. When I was diagnosed the doctors told my parents there would be a cure within 10 years. I am coming up on my 22nd D anniversary in a month. I am excited to see how all of this turns out!

Thanks!

WOW! Mixed emotions here. I had a little grin before reading the previous comments... now I'm a little sad.

Like Chrissy, when Tristan was diagnosed at 16 month his then doctor told us that he really believed that Tristan would be cured by the time that he was 10 years old. Tristan is now 6.... I guess my heart kind of sank a little when I read that Chrissy's parents were told the same thing.... 22 years ago!

Oh well I think that I always knew that the chances of that happening were slim... very slim... but I wanted to hold on to it.

Anyways, with that in mind.... I will be very conservative in my hope towards the artificial pancreas... but I do have a little smile at the prospect! :)

This made ne sit up and go oooooh. Absolutely fantastic stuff there! I was told when i was diagnosed that there would never be a cure in my lifetime, but things certainly sound like they're getting closer!

Well, I have to say that I'm not all that thrilled. I have been living with diabetes for 37 yrs and I have never given up hope for a cure. This kind of tells me there won't be one anytime soon obviously. I am a pump and CGMS user so I have about $7500 worth of medical equipment hanging off of me and I can only imagine what an artificial pancreas would cost. I am a very active person and my impression of the CGMS is it's pretty accurate when you aren't doing much. When I'm active it's about 30- 60 mins. behind. CGMS would have to be greatly improved before I would tust an artificial pancreas. The liability costs for an artificial pancreas would have to be huge. The cynical side of me says it looks like another device that a company can make a lot of money off of me. I'll keep waiting for a real cure thank you.

I know I should be all happy about this, but I'm just not. It only treats extreme highs (Amy mentioned that it's for the average patient whose bg is above 180 for 12 hours a day). I know it's just a step along the path to a better device and that it will be extremely useful overnight. But you still have to bolus at meals and it doesn't sound very useful for people who are doing "better than average" with what's available now.

I really do see how this is a great advancement, but I've been waiting 23 years for something to help ME, and I'm impatient.

Thank you for the play by play this morning! I'm still on the fence but curious to see what happens.

My son was diagnosed at 17 months, he is now 2 1/2. We don't think too much about or allow much hope for a cure, but hearing about advancements like this does give me some hope for my son. He is so young he could potentially have something like this by the time he gets to junior high with a lot of life still to live ahead of him.

I agree with most of the comments here. I don't hope for a cure much anymore, either -- and it kind of ticks me off that we all think that way, while new, expensive (and yes, exciting) treatment options roll in on a regular basis.

I guess I get annoyed that there's so much energy and promise devoted to treatments that, ultimately, make money for manufacturers. Once again, I'm thankful for all my little gadgets, but I know that the people behind the Freestyle meter aren't running a multi-million dollar ad campaign out of the goodness of their hearts.

A cure would save diabetics money. Treatments make big companies rich.

I share the skepticism of those who posted earlier comments. From what I hear from CGMS users, most are not ready to hand over insulin dosing decisions to the current technology.

Do you all know about the Medtronic Paradigm Veo?
http://www.medtronic.co.uk/your-health/diabetes/device/insulin-pumps/paradigm-veo-pump/index.htm
I know that the MM CGMS leaves a lot to be desired, but I think it is good to know what is already out there before we decide how ground breaking this announcement is.

I would be more ready to have my pump shut off due to measured lows than to have a device start giving me boluses for highs. Bolusing for false highs could be fatal.

I've heard the "C" word for close to 30 years now. I don't believe that it will come in my lifetime.

I think it's naive to think that there will be a cure in the near future at all. To find a cure, you're going to have to stop the autoimmune process, and figure out how to not only get beta cells functional again, but also alpha cells and the rest of the islet process. What's the point of a beta cell if your body doesn't recognize when the beta has put out too much insulin, and it needs to correct with glycogen from the liver? That's so far in the distance from where we are.

I'll take any technology that will make this easier. Based on reading the news release, I don't think that I'd want a first generation one, but it's certainly a step in the right direction.

The toy that I want someday is voice-recognition software that will understand -- and dose appropriately, including combo boluses -- what it means when I say "Four pieces of sushi. Two dumplings." or "Four slices of pizza with pepperoni."

I've been following the artificial pancreas project for a while. The fact that these three groups are making this announcement gives me a good deal of hope that we will actually see something in trials fairly soon.

Thanks for the update!

I want to add to my comment that I don't get my hopes up for a cure, but I am still hopeful for one. I like to think of it in the same way I think of world peace, it would be really great to have, but it is just not logical to hold my breath for it. I think steps like an artificial pancreas help people better understand the disease and ways to help us diabetics live longer and healthier. I'm all for anything that makes my quality of life go up with this disease!

Well...I'm excited :)

I was surprised to read somewhere that Aaron Kowalski announced that an Animas/Dexcom combo pump is expected to launch this year.

That's a pretty big statement if you aren't feeling confident about it actually happening.

I guess that's more exciting to me because we'll be getting a new pump in 2011.

And, for us, it'll be a tangible step in the artificial pancreatic direction.

My family and friends gather to raise money for JDRF to raise money for a cure. Everyone has their goal I totally understand that. The AP is not a cure in my opinion. JDRF's major focus is disappointing in my opinion. We won't be funding JDRF any longer. I'm not losing sight of what I think really is achievable.

I wish they (the JDRF) would worry more about a cure instead of finding ways to make pharmaceutical companies more money on the backs of those who suffer with diabetes. I expected more ... silly me.

Do they mean a closed system insulin pump and CGMS? It's awesome, and I think Minimed has this in the works already and has been working on FDA approval for it.

It's an interesting race... so to speak. Either way, I look forward to it. :)
~Bethanne

"Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good."

That being said, I think this is great news. While a cure is the ultimate goal and we shouldn't stop seeking one, we should also consider that these companies' products are making this disease easier to manage. If all research money was poured into a cure, rather than products to make treatment easier (rapid-acting insulin, pumps, CGMs, home meters, etc), we could still be comparing our test strips to the colors on the box...after using the guillotine. *gulp*

I don't doubt that JDRF and other companies are still seeking a cure. In the meantime, I appreciate that they are also working on things such as the artificial pancreas to help us during the wait.

Laurie and Suze, I too have helped raise money for and given to JDRF. They are involved in a lot of projects, and the artificial pancreas is just one. Funding a search for a cure is another. Please don't give up on them!

I've had my pump and my Dexcom for a good while now and the idea of dosing from "Dex" alone scares me. Between my pump, my meter, and Dex, I have what i consider to be an "artificial pancreas" or at least as close as it can be for now. Technolgy has come a long way, but still has one last long run before I'll trust it to dose me without my prior approval. Believe me though, I'll be first in line when they get it right.

I hate to be negative..but I have been waiting for a CURE for over 30 years. My 14 year old daughter is also Type 1 and I can only hope and pray that in her liftime there will be a cure. Yes, the advancements are great but I'm waiting on the real deal!

Hey Kerri, do you have a category on your blog for research updates? I've been thumbing thru a lot of your past posts looking for your thoughts on different research updates and projects. (nothing in particular, just in general). I must be missing it.

BTW...I think this recent announcement is huge and you couldn't have titled this post better. LOL! I loved it!

I have had type 1 diabetes for 50 years now.. and there is always hope for a cure.. we are getting closer to the cure.. and i will always believe and have hope.. we will win this fight.. all of us

THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE FOR A CURE... NEVER EVER GIVE UP ON THE HOPE... I HAVE HAD TYPE 1 DIABETES FOR 50 YEARS NOW.. AND MY NUMBER ONE RULE.IS..."ALWAYS ALWAYS BE POSITIVE."" never give in or give up...

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