The newest device that could help diabetics is another step forward in clinical testing. It's the artificial pancreas and it will soon be tested in a home setting.
"It's exciting," said Tom Brosban, who is the National Director of Research and Investment for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. He also happens to be a Blacksburg resident and a Type 1 diabetic.
Here is how the artificial pancreas works. A diabetic wears an insulin pump and a glucose sensor that continuously monitors blood sugar. That device is connected wirelessly to the person's smart phone.
Brosban knows what it's like to constantly monitor his insulin. "Living with Type 1 diabetes you really never get a vacation," Brosban said. "You're constantly having to manage everything. You monitor your insulin every time you eat a meal, every time you exercise, every time you get stressed. "
The artificial pancreas would change that.
"When this system takes over, when the smart phone takes over and starts, you get to stop thinking," Brosban said. "You get to let technology do what it's really good at, which is helping to manage some of that day to day drudgery and burden of having to live with Type 1 diabetes, so it's terrific. "
The artificial pancreas was developed at the University of Virginia. Clinical trials where the device was monitored in a hospital setting have already taken place at UVa. Within the next several months trials will begin where patients at different locations nationwide will test the device in a home setting.
Another huge stride in diabetes research is where scientists encapsulate cells that make insulin so your immune system can't attack them, said Brosban. That research is going on in Southern California.
Brosban spoke at the annual meeting of the local JDRF in Roanoke to talk about the latest in research Wednesday evening.