First Artificial Pancreas in Person With Diabetes

On November 13, 2000, it was announced that surgeons in Montpellier, France, implanted the world’s first internal artificial pancreas in a person with diabetes.

“This is the first time that such a prototype has been implanted in a person,” said Professor Eric Renard, who headed the operation that took place in October 2000.

According to French news wire reports, the patient who received the artificial pancreas was a type 1 and received the long-term implantable glucose sensor and pump system developed by MiniMed and licensed to Medical Research Group.

The pump, which is anticipated to reach the U.S. market sometime this year, has been approved in Europe. It is surgically placed under the skin and filled every few months by a physician. The insulin-delivery catheter is placed into the lining of the abdominal cavity, providing portal-vein insulin absorption.

In September 2000, Jeffrey Joseph, director of the Artificial Pancreas Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, told DIABETES HEALTH the MiniMed/MRG technology could be “the first fully implantable artificial pancreas.”

The French researchers are saying their clinical trial will enable them to evaluate the life of the detector of blood-sugar levels.

“[We] anticipate the life-span of the device to be around two years,” says Renard, adding that clinical tests will include implants being given to 50 patients-10 in the French city of Montpellier and 40 in the United States.

Under the current trial, the patient remains connected to a computer system so doctors can monitor the performance of the device.

Renard said he was confident that beneficiaries would quickly be fully autonomous, given the device had been successfully on a diabetic animal.

“This clinical trial is a crucial step in the progression to realizing an implantable artificial pancreas,” said Alfred W. Mann, president and director-general of MRG.

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