Artificial Pancreas? Not.

Artificial is defined as:
1. a. Made by humans; produced rather than natural.
b. Brought about or caused by sociopolitical or other human-generated forces or influences: set up artificial barriers against women and minorities; an artificial economic boom.
2. Made in imitation of something natural; simulated: artificial teeth.
3. Not genuine or natural: an artificial smile.

Pancreas is defined as:
A long, irregularly shaped gland in vertebrates, lying behind the stomach, that secretes pancreatic juice into the duodenum and insulin, glucagon, and somatostatin into the bloodstream.

By smooshing (clearly, a scientific term) those 2 words together, somehow mainstream media thinks that because the FDA approved something with ONE FREAKING NEW FEATURE ON AN INSULIN PUMP, suddenly we all will soon have fake pancreas machines that will “fix” our diabetes.

Scott Hanselman wrote a post about this that describes (better than I can) exactly how I’m sure a LOT of us feel:

Am I excited about new pump technology? Yes. Would I love to have an artificial pancreas so I didn’t have to think about managing my diabetes 24/7? Of course. But please – until it really does everything-my-broken-pancreas-should-do, or very close to it – don’t call it an artificial pancreas.
English: Diagram shows insulin release from th...

English: Diagram shows insulin release from the Pancreas and how this lowers blood sugar leves. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

5 thoughts on “Artificial Pancreas? Not.

  1. I completely agree with you. To be honest, I’m not even quite sure if I’d qualify a fully-automated closed-loop insulin pump system, complete with irritable infusion sets, finnicky sensors, BG calibrations, and fillable cartridges to be an “artificial pancreas” (not that it wouldn’t be nice!).

    But this announcement, while a bit inaccurate, doesn’t trouble me too much. Anyone who is “in the know” knows what it is: A crippled-version of an existing device that they’ve had overseas for years.

    This isn’t a medical breakthrough, it’s a celebration of government completing its job over-time and (likely) over-budget. A familiar refrain.

  2. For real! I guess I’m annoyed because all the people NOT in the know (who also see the skippy congratulatory party going on in the mainstream media) seem to think that this is some huge advancement for type 1 diabetics – assuming they even understand the difference in type 1 and type 2 – and think it will dramatically change our world. It won’t. There still isn’t a cure, and there still isn’t a way that I don’t have to think of what I eat/drink/do/take/feel every second of the day. That’s my beef with everyone throwing around the words “artificial pancreas.”

  3. One of the things I’ve been wondering the last couple of days: Will calling this an Artificial Pancreas device serve to dilute the term for people? Kind of the same way some people say, “Well, there’s insulin, so you really have nothing to worry about”. I don’t know. I’m excited about the approval. But, as usual, time will tell how much of an impact this will make.

    • Yes! I was trying to say exactly that – I don’t want un-knowing people thinking, “oh, there’s an ‘artificial pancreas’ now, diabetics should have no problems dealing with their disease,” and then they stop donating money to research or think that diabetes is a disease that can be written off as a threat to them or their loved ones. Just because this 1 new feature is out, it doesn’t mean that diabetes is truly any easier to manage. Definitely a step in the right direction, but still a LONG way to go.

  4. Pingback: Minimed® 530G with Enlite®. Five questions. | Diabetes Blog -

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s