Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Artificial Pancreas on the Horizon

An artificial pancreas could revolutionize the treatment of diabetes, and it may only be a few years away.

Insulin Pump a Step Forward continued...

Made by Medtronic MiniMed of Northridge, Calif., the hockey puck-sized device is implanted under the skin of the abdomen, from where it delivers insulin to the body, "just like the real pancreas," he says.

Lori Hahn, a 41-year-old Californian who has had diabetes for more than a decade, says the implantable pump has changed her life. "Before the pump, my life was a roller coaster, both blood sugar-wise and emotionally," says Hahn, who is participating in a U.S. clinical trial. "I felt out of control and had to focus a lot of my time on controlling my blood sugar.

"With the implantable pump, I can forget I am a diabetic," says Hahn, a working wife and mother of three active youngsters.

The pump, which uses specially formulated insulin, is refilled every two to three months. It delivers insulin in short bursts throughout the day, similar to a pancreas. It is also programmed to deliver higher amounts of insulin for mealtimes. Before a meal or snack, a push of a button on a pager-sized personal pump communicator tells the pump to dispense a dose of insulin.

Smart System a Major Milestone

Other research is focusing on improving communication between the glucose sensor and the external insulin pump. According to Joseph, a major milestone was reached this summer when the FDA approved one of the first smart systems that allows the two systems to communicate via a wireless connection.

Such systems take a lot of the guesswork out of insulin dosing, he says.

Traditionally, patients had to prick their fingers and place the blood on a strip to get a blood sugar reading, estimate how many grams of carbohydrates they planned to eat, and mentally calculate how much insulin they needed. The system left much room for error, with the wrong calculation potentially leading to dangerously high or low blood sugar levels.

With the newly approved Paradigm system, which combines the Medtronic MiniMed insulin pump and a glucose monitor from Becton Dickinson, patients still prick their fingers to measure their blood sugar levels. But the pager-sized glucose monitor transmits the information straight to the insulin pump. The insulin pump then calculates the amount of insulin required for the current blood sugar. By having the pump calculate the dose required, you could prevent errors that sometimes result when patients input this data manually, he says.

"It's up to the patient to decide if the suggested amount is correct and push a button to deliver the recommended dose," Joseph says. "It's not an artificial pancreas as it's not fully automated. But it's a major advance of convenience and has the potential to improve blood sugar control in the clinical setting."

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
kenneth fujioka, md
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Middle aged person
jennie brand miller

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
type 2 diabetes
food fitness planner