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Question:
Hi, my niece how lives in Italy was diagnosed with juvenile diabetis last year at 4 years old. She is insulin dependent. My sister just read in an Italian health magazine (Stare Bene), that Dr. Robert Langer of the Boston Institute of Technology has been working on a watch type device that measures the glucose level and if necessary give an insulin injection automatically. I would like to know if her information is correct and if so, were can we get this device.

Answer:
It sounds too good to be true, doesn't it! We're sorry to have to discourage you, but the reporters that mentioned this idea have vastly overstated the case.

In the latest issue of JDF's Countdown magazine (the Winter 1996 issue), on page 12, there's a discussion about the possibility that a device will become available someday. They mention that a prelinary study in rats (By Drs. Robert Langer, Samir Mitragotri, and Daniel Blankschtein, of Massachusetts Institute of Technology) showed that insulin molecules can be forced through the skin layers using ultrasound.

Unlike the version of the story you heard, the device discussed in Countdown would be a "pocket-size device" (not a wristwatch). And the article in Countdown says nothing at all about the device incorporating a blood glucose monitor and a computer!

It's sad that some reporters who have no idea what's going on in medical research mislead us into thinking that a gadget is "about to become available" when it's merely a dream about how some very, very preliminary research could possibly be utilized in the distant future.

The author of the article in Countdown correctly points out that "a device to give you insulin through the skin is a long way off. More research must be done to answer {many} questions."

By the way, there was an excellent drawing of a device called the Insulink on the Internet. It sure does look great, doesn't it!

Original posting 1 Dec 95

  
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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:52
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