The first version of an artificial pancreas is now on the market. And because our endocrinologists work closely with the International Diabetes Center (IDC), our clinics are among the few sites in the country where you can get it at this time.

This artificial pancreas device is a first of its kind. It’s a closed-loop system that automatically delivers insulin to people with type 1 diabetes based on their blood sugar levels.

“Are my blood sugars in a good range? Am I safe? These are questions people with diabetes have to ask all the time. There are a lot of numbers to pay attention to,” said IDC executive director Rich Bergenstal, MD.

Patients do still need to interact with this new system. But the fact that it does part of the work for them is groundbreaking.

“The artificial pancreas is about making your numbers easier to manage. And that can make life a little simpler,” Dr. Bergenstal said.

Medtronic developed the technology used in the new device. And the IDC, which is part of HealthPartners Institute, was one of ten sites in the world to conduct critical research on its use. More than 120 patients aged 14 to 75 years were studied over three months as they tested the artificial pancreas. One was Anne Keogh from Plymouth, Minn. She says using the new device changed her life.

“It’s an adjustment but the benefits are incredible,” Keogh said. “It makes life with diabetes much more manageable.”

The IDC also led the scientific publication of the study findings. That helped the device get approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. And that’s how ultimately how it got commercialized.

Steve Thyren will be one of the very first in the country to use the device now that it’s on the market. He is a HealthPartners patient and his endocrinologist Anders Carlson, MD, is an IDC Medical Director.

“I am 20 percent nervous and 80 percent excited,” Thyren said. “I’m nervous because I am one of the first and my life is dependent on this device. But I’m much more excited. I believe this technology will make not only my life, but hundreds of thousands of other folks’ lives, much easier.”

That’s what Park Nicollet pediatric endocrinology patient Ellie Hedlund and her family are hopeful for, too. Ellie’s doctor Amy Criego, MD, is also an IDC Medical Director and got her started on the new system.

“Ellie has lived with Type 1 diabetes for 13 years. And we have looked forward to this day since she was diagnosed at age 4,” said Chris Hedlund, Ellie’s father. “We had to send Ellie off to kindergarten after being newly diagnosed. And now she’s about to leave for college in the fall. That’s challenging for us as parents so this is a huge relief.”

The initial rollout of the devices will happen through:

Talk with your endocrinologist or your diabetes care team for more information.

Patients learn how to use the artificial pancreas