World’s first treatment for type 1 diabetes-an insulin pump which functions like an artificial pancreas

Image: Xavier Hames (centre) with his mother Naomi (left), father Shaun (back) and clinical nurse consultant Annette Hart (right) at Princess Margaret Hospital for Children in Perth (Source:
Image: Xavier Hames (centre) with his mother Naomi (left), father Shaun (back) and clinical nurse consultant Annette Hart (right) at Princess Margaret Hospital for Children in Perth (Source:

An insulin pump which almost functions like an artificial pancreas has been fitted into a four-year-old Australian boy and researchers are saying it is the world’s first treatment for type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is characterized by high blood glucose levels due to the inability of the pancreas to produce insulin. Xavier Hames is the lucky boy and the first patient to use the new device following clinical trials. The device is the size of an mp3 player and is attached to the boy’s body using several tubes inserted under the skin. It is basically an insulin pump which relieves the patient from the need to closely manage the disease. The device was developed after five years of clinical trials at the Princess Margaret Hospital for Children and at other Australian hospitals. It is reported to cost about US$8,100.

 “The technology mimics the biological function of the pancreas to predict low glucose levels and stop insulin delivery,” Western Australia’s health department said. “This in turn avoids the serious consequences of low glucose such as coma, seizure and potential death.” The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), a non-profit organization which funded the research that led to the procedure, said the technology tracks glucose levels and stops insulin delivery up to 30 minutes before a predicted hypoglycemic attack happens. The attacks are sparked by low glucose levels and mostly take place at night when patients may not be able to react or recognize the potentially fatal episode. “This device can predict hypoglycemia before it happens and stop insulin delivery before a predicted event,” Jones, one of the lead doctors involved in the research, said in a statement. “This coupled with the fact that the pump automatically resumes insulin (delivery) when glucose levels recover is a real medical breakthrough.”

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Scientist-entrepreneur-manager-journalist: -Co-founder, Author; Former Assistant Editor and Director, Biotechin.Asia, Biotech Media Pte. Ltd.; -Founder & CEO, SciGlo (; -Programme Management Officer, SBIC, A*STAR (former Research Fellow). --Sandhya graduated from University of Madras, India (B.Sc Microbiology and M.Sc Biotechnology) and received her Ph.D from the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She worked on oxidative stress in skin, skeletal, adipose tissue and cardiac muscle for a decade from 2006-2016. She is currently working as a Programme Management Officer handling projects and grants at Singapore Bioimaging Consortium (SBIC), Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). Earlier to this she was a Research Fellow in the Fat Metabolism and Stem Cell Group at SBIC. Sandhya was also the Vice President and Publicity Chair of A*PECSS (A*STAR Post Doc Society) (2014-2016). Recently she founded a platform for scientists - SciGlo ( and is a startup mentor at Vertical VC (Finland). She is an ardent lover of science and enjoys globe trotting and good vegetarian food.