According to the World Health Organization, over 6% of the world's population lived with diabetes in 2014. This number is expected to increase to almost 8% by 2030. This makes the diabetes market one of the fastest-growing and most lucrative markets in the whole world. Medical device companies are therefore investing tremendous amounts of resources in new innovations that can make this chronic disease easier to manage.
The creation of an ?artificial pancreas? system has particularly generated a lot of interest from researchers and patients alike. A perfect closed loop artificial pancreas system would use an automated computer program to calculate how much insulin an insulin pump should release into the blood stream based on readings from a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device without any input from the user. A perfectly working system would therefore work exactly like the human pancreas, enabling type 1 diabetics to lead an entirely normal life. Medtronic's MiniMed 640G device, which is currently still awaiting approval in the US, is a definite step in this direction. This device uses improved algorithms to sense blood sugar levels and releases insulin in cases where levels are low. This system, however, is not a true artificial pancreas since it does not automatically adjust insulin dosage in cases where blood sugar levels are too high. Medtronic is still conducting further research in this area but would likely be at the forefront of a completely closed loop artificial pancreas system in the future.
Intarcia Therapeutics? implantable pump device is also a step in the direction of easier and more automated management of diabetes but for type 2 patients. This device, called the ITCA 650, is a thin implantable pump that holds the drug exenatide. Once commercially available, the pump would be implanted in abdominal tissue releasing the drug slowly over a period of approximately a year. This would enable type 2 diabetics to maintain consistent blood sugar levels automatically for the entire life of the pump. This could be a game-changing device for type 2 diabetes management once it hits the market, currently expected in 2017.