Tracy Cohen, 38, has Type 1 diabetes, so she watches every bite.
"In terms of carbohydrates and how much insulin I need," she said.
A pump on her stomach injects her with the insulin her pancreas can't create on its own. For more than 30 years, Cohen has had to test her blood sugar levels up to 15 times a day, then type the dosage of insulin she needs into the pump. But now she is testing out a revolutionary device at a research institute in Santa Barbara, Calif. It's called the artificial pancreas.
"I don't have to go in and say 'my blood sugar is this, therefore I'm going to do this.' It figures it out for you," Cohen explained.
While many diabetics already use an insulin pump and a glucose monitor, researchers are developing a wireless device to connect the two.
"It takes some of the thought process and some of the hassles of interacting with pumps and sensors and automates that so the patient doesn't have to do that work," said Dr. Howard Zisser of the Sansum Diabetes Research Institute.
When the monitor senses a need for insulin, the pump automatically injects it into the patient through a small coil.
Researchers hope the device will be an option for the nearly 3 million Americans with Type 1 diabetes, many suffering with symptoms since childhood.
Cohen says the artificial pancreas would free her up to spend more time with her family and less time dealing with her diabetes.
"They mean the world to me and I want to be around for them," she said.
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