Artificial pancreas to help Type 1 diabetes patients

Prof Radhakant Padhi.

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have designed an artificial pancreas system to treat Type 1 diabetes, which is all set for clinical trial early next year.

The first-of-its-kind innovation will design algorithms specific to the Indian gene and an indigenous insulin pump, which, researchers said, would make the system act like a pancreas.

IISc researchers are collaborating with doctors at the MS Ramaiah Medical Hospital to create the pancreas system. The project has received Rs 3.6 crore from the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the Indian Council of Medical Research.

At IISc, Dr Manish Arora, assistant professor, Center for Product Design and Manufacturing, has been working on an indigenous design of
the insulin pump along with Prof Radhakant Padhi from the aeronautical engineering department and Prof K V S Hari from the ECE department.

Dr Arora said the insulin pump is ready and the team hopes to go in for clinical trials by July next year. “Although this is bigger than the existing ones in the market by 1.5 times, our focus is accuracy right now. We will work on optimising the size later,” he said.

Right now, the team is working on collecting data on insulin production among Indian patients when given a certain quantity of glucose.

Though sensor-based products are available in the market to deliver insulin, they have algorithms designed mostly for Caucasians whose genes are different, researchers said.

Prof Padhi told DH that the team is working to bring down the cost significantly.

“The biggest challenge is to write an algorithm for the Indian population,” he said.

“The advanced variety of the imported insulin pump is priced anywhere between Rs 5 to Rs 6 lakh. An additional expense has to be set aside for the purchase of sensors and devices that establish compatibility. We estimate the price (of the artificial pancreas designed here) will be around Rs 50,000 to Rs 75,000,”
Prof Padhi further added.

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