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Researchers trying to develop a synthetic pancreas may be one step closer to success, now that a continuous glucose monitoring system received conditional Food and Drug Administra-tion (FDA) approval in March. One day, the technology may be used with an insulin pump, in order to restore some of the functions a healthy organ would do on its own.
The monitor, developed by MiniMed in Sylmar, CA, is composed of a sensor inserted subcutaneously to monitor glucose in interstitial fluids. A thin wire attaches it to a pager-sized glucose monitor. Its readings can then be downloaded into a computer.
The FDA approved use of the monitor under physician supervision, and it is intended to be worn for three days to provide a comprehensive record of glucose fluctuations, says Bob Murtfeldt, MBA, a chemical engineer and biochemist who is MiniMed’s director of business development.
The monitor includes an event menu that can mark mealtimes, exercise periods, insulin injections, and other data important to the management of the disease.
"Endocrinologists tell us there isn’t anybody they wouldn’t want a three-day report on, as opposed to three or four snapshots a day you get from a glucose monitor," Murtfeldt says.
MiniMed also manufactures insulin pumps. he says, "An artificial pancreas is our long-term goal, to combine the pump and the sensor to insulin can be delivered on demand. This is a step in that direction."
MiniMed is working on the first-generation combined pump and monitor, and the project is about three years away from human trials, Murtfeldt says. The company hopes to receive approval for consumer purchase and use of the Continuous Glucose Monitoring System soon.
"It will save a lot of finger sticks with just a small needle-injected sensor," Murtfeldt says.