DEVICE: The artificial pancreas
An artificial pancreas invented by a De Montfort University (DMU) professor could have its first human trials within two years.
Professor Joan Taylor’s creation ensures patients will no longer have to endure injections of insulin every day.
Instead, a device will be surgically implanted into the body and able to release a precise amount of insulin into the bloodstream. Supplies would be topped up every two weeks.
Human trials are due to begin in 2016 with the first implants taking place on the NHS within a decade – news which has featured prominently in the national press with articles in the Daily Express and the Daily Mail among others.
Professor of Pharmacy at DMU, Joan Taylor, said: “The device will not only remove the need to manually inject insulin, but will also ensure that perfect doses are administrated each and every time. By controlling blood glucose so effectively, we should be able to help reduce related health problems.
“We are extremely close to embarking on clinical trials. Diabetes is costing society more than £1million an hour in treatment, and much of that is spent on treating complications.”
The implant contains a reservoir of insulin kept in place by a special gel barrier. When glucose levels in the body rise, the gel liquefies and releases the insulin into the body, mimicking the normal pancreas.
As the insulin lowers the glucose levels, the gel reacts by hardening again and preserving the reservoir. It would eliminate the need for diabetics to inject insulin up to four times a day.
The artificial pancreas will help all Type 1 insulin-dependent diabetics and some suffering Type 2 who need daily injections.
Professor Taylor has spent 20 years developing the device, which requires no electronics. This means the risk of rejection by the body is minimised.
Until now, the project has had funding of £1 million from the NHS, the Lachesis Fund – which invests in research in the university – the charity Edith Murphy Foundation and private backers. Professor Taylor is now seeking a similar amount to refine the product.
“This device is cheap and simple to use,” added Professor Taylor. “It has the potential to bring an end to the misery of daily injections for diabetics.”