Kids Test Bionic Pancreas

By CBS News

Published 08/14 2014 08:32AM

Updated 08/14 2014 08:37AM

CHARLTON, Mass. -- A group of kids are doing some important work at their summer camp that's just outside Boston. They're testing a new medical device called the bionic pancreas. And it could change the lives of children with Type 1 diabetes.

It looks like your average summer camp, but along with swimming and sports - an important medical study is underway. Campers at Camp Joslin have Type 1 diabetes - and some are testing a high tech device that could change their lives.

Mom: you're a hero? (nods yes) 6-year old Gavin Farmer is one of the youngest campers wearing a bionic pancreas.  Dr. Steven Jon Russell with the Massachusetts General Hospital explains, "The bionic pancreas is a device that automatically controls blood sugar and the way that it does it is to sense the blood glucose using a little sensor that goes just underneath the skin."

Dr. Russell is leading the study - the first to test the device in children ages 6 to 11.

Dr. Ed Damiano helped developed the bionic pancreas - the sensors send information to a smartphone that controls two pumps with hormones. "Every 5 minutes it makes a new decision and then it commands the dosing of insulin and glucagon Thatr.

Researchers wanted to test the bionic pancreas here at camp because children are exposed to a wide range of activities and meals.

The bionic pancreas is not yet FDA approved,  but parents see its potential.
"You can pretty much not have to worry about counting carbs and did I give him too much insulin, did I give him too little," says Kathleen Farmer.

11 year old camper John Briggs and his dad are both diabetic.  
"This is great because he has the flexibility where he can just go and be a kid and he doesn’t have to worry about if something might happen," says John Briggs.

Researchers say the bionic pancreas has already been successfully tested in adults and adolescents with type one diabetes.
Some final testing will be done in the next few years before it is submitted for FDA approval in 2017.

(Marlie Hall, CBS News)

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