Apple-powered bionic pancreas one step closer

Philip Elmer-DeWitt | Fortune | June 16, 2014

But FDA approval for treating diabetes is not expected before 2017 at the earliest.

A paper in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine highlights both the potential benefits of Apple’s newly unveiled HealthKit platform and how far off those benefits might still be. The report describes an experiment in which 20 adults and 32 adolescents with Type 1 diabetes controlled their insulin levels automatically using a miniature blood sugar monitor, a pair of under-the-skin hormone pumps and an iPhone.

The jerry-rigged device functioned as a bionic pancreas, injecting insulin or glucagon as needed to keep blood sugar levels within a normal range. According to the report, the number of interventions for hypoglycemia among the adolescents was cut in half, from 1.6 per day for a conventional insulin pump to 0.8 a day with the experimental device.

“The data address some of the most difficult problems in diabetes management,” Dr. Kevan Herold, director of the Diabetes Center, told the New York Times. “I’d say that the effects are quite significant and noteworthy.”...