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Organogenesis. 2011 Jan-Mar;7(1):32-41. Epub 2011 Jan 1.

Can technological solutions for diabetes replace islet cell function?

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Tennessee School of Medicine, Memphis, TN, USA.


The central objective of diabetes research and management is to restore the deficient secretion of insulin, thereby restoring a state of euglycemia and minimizing short- and long-term risks associated with poor glucose control. The development of the artificial pancreas seeks to imitate the action of the pancreatic beta cell by employing closed-loop control to respond to glycemic excursions by appropriately infusing appropriate amounts of insulin. This article examines progress towards implementing an artificial pancreas in the context of the pancreatic islet as the ideal model for controlling blood glucose. Physiologic insulin secretion will form our foundation for considering the technical design elements relevant to electromechanically imitating the beta cell. The most recent clinical trials using closed-loop control are reviewed and this modality is compared to other curative approaches including islet cell transplantation and preservation. Finally, the potential of the artificial pancreas as a method to adequately reestablish euglycemia is considered.

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