Closing The Loop

Medtronic, Inc.
Closing The Loop

Insulin pumps, which provide micro-doses of insulin to people who have diabetes, have been around since the 1980s. Medtronic was the first to provide continuous glucose monitoring, which allows patients to see their glucose values in real time via a small sensor that is attached to the body. Until recently, however, insulin delivery with a pump and continuous glucose monitoring were performed separately.

Medtronic’s Paradigm Veo is an insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor that work together to better manage glucose levels. Medtronic is working with the Food and Drug Administration to get approval for sales in the United States. Veo could receive approval in the U.S. later this year.

By integrating the two technologies, Medtronic has created a semi-closed-loop system for insulin delivery, says Steve Sabicer, former director of marketing for Medtronic. The Paradigm Veo uses information about a patient’s trending glucose levels and essentially makes decisions about how much insulin he or she should receive. Currently, diabetics must perform calculations—taking into account the amount of carbohydrates they consume, activity levels, and other factors—to ensure they give themselves the proper dose of insulin. “We consider this an airbag, if you will, to prevent the dangers associated with daily diabetes management,” Sabicer says.

The pager-like Paradigm Veo has a monitor that detects if the patient has low blood glucose levels, or hypoglycemia, a dangerous condition that can result in coma or, in rare cases, death. An alarm alerts the patient if glucose levels are low, and if the patient fails to react, the Paradigm Veo will stop providing insulin to keep the patient’s blood sugar from dropping further.