Apple-powered bionic pancreas one-step closer

“A paper in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine highlights both the potential benefits of Apple’s newly unveiled HealthKit platform and how far off those benefits might still be,” Philip Elmer-DeWitt reports for Fortune.

“The report describes an experiment in which 20 adults and 32 adolescents with Type 1 diabetes controlled their insulin levels automatically using a miniature blood sugar monitor, a pair of under-the-skin hormone pumps and an iPhone,” P.E.D. reports. “The jerry-rigged device functioned as a bionic pancreas, injecting insulin or glucagon as needed to keep blood sugar levels within a normal range. According to the report, the number of interventions for hypoglycemia among the adolescents was cut in half, from 1.6 per day for a conventional insulin pump to 0.8 a day with the experimental device.”

“The device was developed by Edward R. Damiano, an associate professor of biomechanical engineering at Boston University, whose 15-year-old son has type 1 diabetes,” P.E.D. reports. “His goal is to begin FDA testing in 2015 and win approval before his son starts college in the fall of 2017.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Arline M.” for the heads up.]


  1. Well done Edward Damiano. Few parents are able to change both their child’s life and the many many others fighting the same battle in their lives.

    “Think Different” … Well done Edward!

    1. Replace “Pharma company” with “FDA” and you’ll be a *lot* closer to the truth.

      Pharmaceutical companies would be making a lot by selling a product like this, and they certainly know it.

      1. Yes about Pharma. I hear this “pharma” will bury it line all the time, but it really doesn’t make any sense. They want to put new things on the market that have patent lifetime left so they can charge huge amounts via insurance. I think part of the problem is that some people think a cure means you get one treatment an it’s all done. While it certainly could be true for some types of health problems, may other diseases would be lifetime treatments, so Pharma is going to make a ton of money.

  2. As a type-1 diabetic myself, I have been keeping up with this project for years. I could not be more excited for this. There are a couple of things that will delay this:

    1) Currently Glucagon is an unstable drug. Its very expensive and once “mixed” is only good for about 24 hours. Someone has to come up with a more stable solution that is economical.

    2) The article states it runs on an iPhone App, which is true, but the phone is in lockdown mods. It can’t do anything but run the App. The question here is, how can they get the app to actively run in the background without going to “suspended mode.” Side note..If the reliability cannot be achieved, I would gladly pay for a dedicated iPod touch.

    3) Private insurance making this affordable and accessible.

  3. I think it would be best you get a medical professional to rewrite this. I doubt diabetics have 1.6 hypos/day or even .8 And there are many more diabetics than quoted and this system would be of use to very very few type 2 diabetics.

    1. mac2net- I am type 1 diabetic and can 100% assure that having 1-2 Hypoglycemic episodes per day is incredibly likely.

      This product will not be aimed at Type-2 diabetics. It is designed for Type-1s like myself.

      Type-1 and Type-2 are almost completely different conditions.

  4. A standard experiment consists of 3 groups, so in this case we know the averages for the non-use group and the use-group but not the control (device-used but instead of glucagen/insulin, saline is used). I wonder if having the device changed the ‘normal’ activities of the ‘use’ group and played a part in the significant difference.

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