A four-year-old boy from Australia has been fitted with the world's first artificial pancreas to treat type 1 diabetes.
Xavier Hames, from Perth, developed diabetes when he was just 22 months old. He had been on daily insulin injections until Wednesday, when a team of doctors at the Princess Margaret Hospital for Children (PMH) fixed the wearable insulin pump to his body.
Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreatic beta cells that help regulate blood sugar in the body. In diabetics, the body fails to produce enough insulin or loses its ability to use the hormone properly.
Type 1 diabetes patients need daily insulin injections to survive, as the pancreatic cells get destroyed by the immune system of the body. In those suffering from type 2 diabetes, the body develops a resistance to insulin.
The artificial pancreas are fixed into a small black box and it runs on battery. The device supplies insulin to the body through a tube inserted under the skin, WA today reported.
The insulin pump monitors glucose levels, sends alerts to the user on witnessing a drop in the glucose levels and also manages insulin supply to the body.
The new device can help reduce risk of hypoglycaemia. This feature makes it better than other such devices.
Hypoglycaemia, according to the American Diabetes Association, is a life-threatening medical condition caused by abnormally low levels of blood sugar (below 70 mg/dl). It can cause coma, seizures or death.
"Most parents have to get up two or three times a night to check glucose levels and this might make them feel a little safer at night time if they know they've got this automated system that's going to prevent low glucose," Professor Tim Jones, from Perth's Princess Margaret Hospital, told ABC.
The research team at the Princess Margaret Hospital for Children (PMH) spent almost five years to test their device and make it a perfect weapon for managing type 1 diabetes.
The device has already hit the market and is priced at $10,000.