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Mayo Clinic developing artificial pancreas to ease diabetes burden

June 25, 2011

Mayo Clinic endocrinologists are developing an artificial pancreas that will deliver insulin automatically and with an individualized precision never before possible.

The “Closed Loop System” under development includes a blood sugar monitor, an automatic insulin pump, a set of activity monitors that attach to the body, and a central processing unit.

In related research, they found that diabetics who engaged in low-grade physical activity after eating had blood sugar levels close to those of people with fully functioning pancreases. Those who remained sedentary after their meal, however, had elevated blood sugars. They also found that blood sugar levels decrease faster in the mornings in healthy adults than at dinner time, suggesting a diurnal pattern to natural insulin action.

The researchers plan to incorporate some of these findings into the artificial pancreas.

Clinical trials of the artificial pancreases are likely to begin in November with a handful of inpatient volunteers.

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