I try not to get too excited about diabetes “breakthroughs” or technology announcements. Years ago, before I even had a personal connection to type 1, I covered the Glucowatch and inhaled insulin as a TV health reporter. Never heard of them? Yeah, they didn’t work out so well.
So when Benny was diagnosed in 2006, I was a bit skeptical of the new technology our doctor talked about. Called the artificial pancreas, he described it as an insulin pump, a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and a computer. They’d work together to control blood sugar automatically, just like a working pancreas. It sounded great, but I was wary of getting my hopes up.
Six and a half years later, I think I’m ready to let them start to fly.
I recently got to check in with Tom Brobson. He’s JDRF’s National Director, Research Investment Opportuities and he’s also been testing the artificial pancreas for years. That’s the computer part he’s holding.
Tom spoke with me while he was in Charlotte for our JDRF walk kick off. If you’re not familiar with the artificial pancreas, you may want to skip down to the video (which shows more of his experience) and then listen to the interview.
My interview with Tom Brobson:
I’m embarrassed to admit this after years of being in the diabetes world, but I always thought a CGM had some sort of tubing. Newsflash: it does not. This became clear in my questions to Tom and he was pretty surprised at my misunderstanding. He almost ripped off his shirt (ok, he rolled up his sleeve) to show me the CGM. No tubing, sits almost flat on the skin. Here’s a good site, if you’d like to see it or learn more.
[youtube id=XlNsak3UWWg width=”600″ height=”350″]
I’ve heard from some people who’ve seen the video that they think the setup is pretty cumbersome for the people in the study. They’re wearing the smartphone strapped to their arms? Keep in mind, the first artificial pancreas setup included a computer. No real mobility. Then they moved on to a backpack. Now it’s handheld. I’m not worried about that part.
Just keep moving forward. As Tom says, we’ll get where we’re going.
Are we there yet? (sorry! couldn’t resist)