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May 25, 1979 - Image 7

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1979-05-25

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The Michigan Daily-Friday, May 25, 1979-Page 7

Implantable
insulin pump
could help
diabetics
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP)-A Cali-
fornia firm has built a prototype of an
implantable insulin pump that could
free severe diabetics from daily insulin
shots, officials of the firm said yester-
day.
George Shapiro, president of Andros
Inc. of Berkeley, said the device would
be implanted in the body like a heart
pacemaker.
The pump would supply a steady flow
of insulin that could help reduce
problems. of loss of vision, kidney
failure, and heart disease that many
diabetics suffer, said Dr. Peter For-
sham, who helped develop the device.
FORSHAM, DIRECTOR of the
Metabolic Research Unit at the Univer-
sity of California,-San Francisco, and
himself a diabetic, said the pump could
be on the market in four years if tests
prove its worth.
But he said the device has been used
so far only in dogs-not humans. For-
sham said much more testing was
needed.
There are an estimated 10 million
diabetics in the United States but only
about 1.5 million of them need daily in-
sulin shots.
ONE OF THE main problems with
diabetics is maintaining the proper
level of insulin in the blood.
The shots help diabetics controll their
blood sugar levels. But shots do not
provide the same fine-tuned control as
the pancreas, the natural insulin sup-
ply. And many doctors think the bad
side effects of diabetics result from ac-
cumulated small insulin imbalances.
Dr. William Tamborlane and others
at Yale University recently published a
report on using an external battery-
powered insulin pump to control
diabetics in children. They said the
pump kept blood sugar levels lower and
more steady than injections.
THE PROTOTYPE of the implan-
table device, about the size of a large
pocket watch, weighs just a few ounces
and consists of a microprocessor,
power supply, drug reservoir and a
small pump.
Shapiro said a concentrated form of
insulin now under development will
allow the device to carry a four-month
supply of the hormone, which allows the
body to use sugar and other car-
bohydrates. The implant would be
refilled by injection through a self-
sealing port.
The implantable insulin pump was an
offshoot of another project the company
has been working on, an implantable
heart pump, he said.
IT RELEASES a preprogrammed
dose of insulin at a fixed rate but allows
the patient to increase dose before
meals and during stress, whenthe need
for the drug increases.
"One of the major issues is how will
the insulin be delivered into the body,'
Shapiro said. "The two positions that
seem most interesting now are in the
thigh and just below the collarbone,
which is where heart pacemakers go,"
Shapiro said.
The company is now seeking $1
million financial backing to develop the
device, Shapiro said. He said it should
cost from $1,500 to $5,000 to patients.

Doily Photo by JIM KRUZ
Cantat cani
Guitarist Steve Osburn serenades a politely posed canine outside the Graduate Library. The listener refused to reveal his or
her identity.

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