Many believe that the panacea to the global plague of Type I diabetes is the development of an artificial pancreas.
Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) has been on a quest to develop such a device: a small, portable closed-loop system comprising a continuous glucose monitor, an insulin pump capable of delivering precise amounts of insulin and a computer algorithm to tell the pump how much insulin to deliver based on blood sugar levels.
Now two charitable organizations — Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Helmsley Charitable Trust — are pledging to give Medtronic $17 million to help it further develop a redundant sensor system that combines two sensing technologies in one CGM device. The payments are tied to Medtronic reaching certain milestones over a three-year period, said Amanda Sheldon, a Medtronic spokeswoman in an email.
The goal is to evaluate whether a CGM device with two sensors — an electrochemical sensor commonly used in CGM monitors today and an optical sensor — can better analyze the level of glucose in the body. Having the correct information about blood sugar levels is critical for the pump to be able to determine how much and whether insulin should be delivered.
Medtronic is already testing how effectively those algorithms function. In March, the company announced that patients using the Medtronic Minimed Paradigm Veo showed a 19 percent reduction in the amount of time spent below the low glucose threshold, compared with conventional pump therapy.
The deviceis able to suspend glucose delivery for a maximum of two hours based upon glucose values. The clinical study monitored patients at medical centers. It is now being tested in diabetes patients at their homes in the U.S. While it is being tested here, the system is available in 50 countries worldwide.