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'Artificial pancreas' a boon for diabetics, but cost a deterrent


Hyderabad: 'Artificial pancreas,' a device which mimics the pancreas and automatically monitors blood glucose levels, calculates the amount of insulin needed and delivers it, is a boon for diabetes patients.

Recent developments have made the device fully automated, however, its high cost means it is accessible to only a few patients. Research is on to develop cheaper versions of the device which can make the lives of diabetes patients much easier.

Consultant General Physician and Diabetologist Dr Nithin Reddy said patients are using such devices in India too, but they are quite expensive. The device consists of a sensor, a catheter and an insulin pump. The sensor is in the form of a patch just under the skin to detect sugar levels in the body. It is connected to a catheter through which insulin is released. The catheter is connected to a pump which stores the insulin. The pump can be attached to the patient's belt, just like a phone.

Dr Reddy said the device is only recommended for patients with Type-I diabetes, which affects younger people as their bodies do not produce any insulin and thus the sugar levels can shoot up to very high levels. The device can also be regulated through a mobile app.

While such devices have been available for a few years, in those, the patients themselves had to manually enter the dosage of insulin. Recently, improved versions of the devices are available that use AI to calibrate the dosage of insulin, said Consultant Endocrinologist Dr Sandeep Devireddy. In such cases, the patients only have to calibrate the initial settings and play no further role.

While the device is ideal for patients with Type-I diabetes, Dr Devireddy says it costs about Rs 5 lakh in India while the consumables cost Rs10,000-15,000 per month. He said the possibility of cheaper versions being available in the near future is remote. However, the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) is working to develop a cheaper variant.

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