Washington: Doctors have reported a major medical breakthrough in the development of `artificial pancreas,` a device, which will constantly monitor blood sugar in diabetics and also automatically supply insulin as needed.
A key part of such a system - an insulin pump that is programmed to shut down if blood-sugar level drops down dangerously while people are asleep - worked as it was intended in a three-month study of 247 patients suffering from Type 1 diabetes, Fox News reported.
The `smart pump` that has been developed by Minneapolis-based Medtronic Inc., is already being sold in Europe, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reviewing it now.
Dr. Richard Bergenstal, diabetes chief at Park Nicollet, a large clinic in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, who led the company-sponsored study, said that this is the first step in the development of the artificial pancreas.
In the study, patients were given sensors, which continuously monitored their blood sugar.
50 percent of them were given ordinary insulin pumps and the others given pumps that were programmed to stop insulin supply for two hours when blood-sugar fell low.
Over 3 months, 33 percent people using the pump with the shut-off feature saw a reduction in low-sugar episodes.
The study has also been published online by the New England Journal of Medicine.