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November 2, 2000

Insulin Pumps

Question from Olympia, Washington, USA:

My six year old son has type�1. My husband came up with what I thought was a great idea -- a continuous glucose monitoring system that gives feedback to an insulin pump thus creating a closed system (with adequate back up in case of malfunction). Does anyone know if anyone is working on such a device? If not, maybe someone should?

Answer:

Your husband will be pleased to know that there are two groups that are well advanced in the idea of an external pancreas, but the critical issue has been with adequate backup in case of malfunction. Probably, the Swiss are in the lead with the Disetronic pump and sensor. They are either just about to, or just have, started a clinical trial in Western Europe and don’t plan to introduce a device into this country until it is established across the Atlantic. In the USA, MiniMed has both a very advanced pump and a reliable sensor, but so far have not started any trials in man of an amalgam of the two. Let’s hope that, before your son becomes a teenager, there will be major further advances in both transplantation and sensor/pump devices.

DOB