The Bionic Pancreas May Help Patients with Diabetes

The Bionic Pancreas May Help Patients with Diabetes

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, you understand how much the disease can affect your life. Constant finger-stick testing to manage blood glucose levels, insulin injections and the constant concern that blood glucose levels will increase or decrease are a major part of life.

A new study conducted by researchers at Boston University and Massachusetts General Hospital shows promise for a new medical device they call the bionic pancreas. The study included 20 adult patients and 32 teenage patients at a diabetes camp. In the trial, all patients used the bionic pancreas for five days and their own insulin pumps for five days. The results were measured and compared.

Findings Show Bionic Pancreas Beat the Insulin Pump

The initial findings are very promising. The bionic pancreas was successful in managing blood sugar levels and eliminated the need for constant patient monitoring. Some additional study results were reported.

  • While using the bionic pancreas, patients experienced a reduction in the time spent with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and required 37 percent fewer interventions to manage it.
  • Both test groups (adults and teenagers) experienced improved overall blood sugar levels, especially at night when they typically would not be able to monitor themselves.
  • The bionic pancreas reduced average blood sugar levels to a point where they show reduced likelihood for diabetes-related complications, something that is difficult to accomplish with traditional manual management methods.


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) enthusiastically reported on the trial studies in an article entitled, “Bionic pancreas outperforms insulin pump in adults, youth.”

How the Bionic Pancreas

The bionic pancreas manages blood glucose levels with the use of two essential hormones: insulin (which the patient’s pancreas cannot produce) and glucagon. Insulin is required to lower blood sugar levels in the body throughout the day, and glucagon raises it. By offering two pumps — one with insulin and one with glucagon — the bionic pancreas can manage blood sugar levels by administering small doses of the necessary hormone.

A smartphone app controls the hormone pumps and continuously communicates with a glucose monitor to record blood sugar levels. This automated system essentially replaces the need to perform finger pricks (which type 1 diabetics must do multiple times per day) and to self-administer insulin injections. In addition, the system is automated to prevent guesswork and human error.

With such promising trial results, researchers are making plans for larger, multicenter trials in the near future. The hope is for an integrated machine that includes both hormone pumps, the glucose monitor and computer within one device. Plans to move beyond experimental trials to offer the bionic pancreas to more individuals with type 1 diabetes are slated for within the next few years.

Filing a Disability Claim for Diabetes Complications 

While the bionic pancreas ultimately may help patients avoid diabetic complications, many still suffer from them, and they can interfere with patients’ ability to work. If your type 1 diabetes interferes with your ability to work, Rob Levine & Associates can help pursue disability benefits.

You may be entitled to benefits through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) programs. Diabetes is not on the Listing of Impairments, but complications associated with diabetes may qualify patients to receive disability benefits.

Call us today at 1-866-LAW-SSDI to set up a consultation with an attorney at Rob Levine & Associates. We are available to discuss your case and advise you of any options for pursuing disability benefits.

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