Artificial pancreas for diabetes treatment tops Cleveland Clinic's 2018 top 10 medical innovations

Posted at 5:47 PM, Oct 25, 2017

Imagine curing blindness with gene therapy or a simple implant to treat sleep apnea. What about an artificial pancreas to better treat diabetes?

These are real medical breakthroughs among the top 10 innovations just released by Cleveland Clinic that are expected to make waves in 2018.

"Normally, if you'd gone ten years ago, it was a drug or a device that was going to change one thing," explained Dr. Michael Roizen, chief wellness officer for Cleveland Clinic. "Now, it's really at the interface and multiple things for each innovation."

Some of the greatest minds in medicine -- from all around the world -- are in Cleveland this week for the Clinic's 15th annual Medical Innovation Summit. The highlight: the ten medical innovations expected to have the biggest impact across the United States in the coming year. 

"We interview between 150 and 200 physicians, another 30 to 40 venture capitalists and media people," explained Dr. Roizen.

That begins the process of whittling hundreds of innovations down to ten. At the top of the list this time around is the world's first artificial pancreas to treat diabetes.

"The innovation and the new development is a hybrid, closed-system pump, that is linked to a sensor that can be placed in the abdomen or on the abdomen," said Dr. James Young, executive dean of Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine.

The sensor constantly monitors glucose levels and communicates with the pump to deliver the correct amount of insulin.

"The difference is, the pump measures the glucose many, many more times than finger stick measurements can be done," Dr. Young said. "And so, the number of finger sticks drops to two, maybe four a day, instead of many, many more that a lot of Type I diabetics have to use."

The technology is so impressive that it only took the FDA about a hundred days to approve, which is unheard of, according to Dr. Young.

"It's on the market and our predictions are that it's going to make a dramatic impact on improving diabetes management and make it easier for patients with Type I diabetes to live."

There are millions of type one diabetics in the U.S. and about 30,000 new diagnoses every year. Dr. Young predicts the closed-loop insulin delivery system will also be available for Type 2 diabetics in the future.

You can find the full Top 10 Medical Innovations list here.