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Diabetes Has a New Enemy: Robo-Pancreas

Sensors, actuators, and algorithms can automatically control blood sugar

9 min read
Photo of Brian Herrick
Blood Sugar, Online: Brian Herrick tracks the ups and downs of glucose in his bloodstream with a Dexcom system—a skin-hugging sensor that communicates via Bluetooth with a handheld monitor.
Photo: David Yellen

The first great wonder drug was insulin, the blood-sugar-regulating hormone that was isolated in Canada nearly a century ago. The before-and-after pictures still astound: a skeletal wraith on the left, a rosy-cheeked child on the right.

But the promise of insulin has yet to be fulfilled. Normally, the pancreas, an organ near the liver, secretes insulin to control the concentration of glucose in the blood. In patients with type 1 diabetes—once known as juvenile diabetes because it’s usually diagnosed in children—the pancreas makes no insulin of its own, so those with the disease must work hard to mimic that organ’s function. If blood sugar goes too low, the patient faints; if it goes too high, it poses long-term risks to the eyes, nerves, and arteries. So several times a day the patient must prick a finger to test blood sugar, make a calculation based on planned meals and exercise, and adjust the injection of insulin to account for it all. The burden of self-management goes on night and day.

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IEEE Medal of Honor Goes to Vint Cerf

He codesigned the Internet protocol and transmission control protocol

2 min read
Photo of a man with a white beard in a dark suit.
The Royal Society

IEEE Life Fellow Vinton “Vint” Cerf, widely known as the “Father of the Internet,” is the recipient of the 2023 IEEE Medal of Honor. He is being recognized “for co-creating the Internet architecture and providing sustained leadership in its phenomenal growth in becoming society’s critical infrastructure.”

The IEEE Foundation sponsors the annual award.

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Portable Life-Support Device Provides Critical Care in Conflict and Disaster Zones

The compact unit is equipped with an innovative ventilator that recovers oxygen exhaled by the patient

5 min read
A soldier carrying a MOVES SLC portable life support unit walks over to an injured person on the ground.

Thornhill Medical's mobile life-support device, called MOVES SLC, has been used by military medical teams for five years. The unit can be slung across the shoulder and includes a circle-circuit ventilator and oxygen concentrator that eliminate the need to carry heavy, dangerous high pressure O2 cylinders.

Thornhill Medical

This is a sponsored article brought to you by LEMO.

A bomb explodes — medical devices set to action.

It is only in war that both sides of human ingenuity coexist so brutally. On the one side, it innovates to wound and kill, on the other it heals and saves lives. Side by side, but viscerally opposed.

Dr. Joe Fisher is devoted to the light side of human ingenuity, medicine. His research at Toronto’s University Health Network has made major breakthroughs in understanding the absorption and use of oxygen by the body. Then, based on the results, he developed new, highly efficient methods of delivering oxygen to patients.

In 2004, together with other physicians and engineers, he created a company to develop solutions based on his innovations. He named it after the Toronto neighborhood where he still lives — Thornhill Medical.

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