We have been watching the development of insulin pumps and closed-loop “artificial pancreas” systems with great interest in recent years. A number of proof of concept projects are underway, last September Medtronic’s MiniMed 530G device was approved by the FDA, and now it seems that there is a new technology entering the fray from the UK. Joan Taylor, a professor of pharmacy at De Montfort University in the U.K., has developed the De Montfort insulin pump, an innovative device which requires no power supply and contains no electronic components. The pump, which is the size of a wristwatch and is implanted in the abdomen, uses a chemical closed-loop system for regulating the delivery of insulin, an approach which requires no electronics, minimizing rejection of the implant.
The key component to regulating the delivery of insulin from the pump is a reactive gel barrier which surrounds a reservoir of insulin. When glucose levels rise in the body, the gel barrier liquefies and releases the hormone. As the glucose levels reduce in response to the insulin, the gel barrier hardens again to contain the insulin.The pump is connected to a small port under the skin through which patients can refill the insulin reservoir every two weeks, eliminating the need for daily injections.
While the technology has been almost twenty years in the making, human trials of the pump are due to commence in 2016 and the timing could not be any sooner. We look forward to seeing how this device impacts the emerging and substantial artificial pancreas market in the future.
Press release: Human trials in two years for artificial pancreas invention