Researchers hope technology will eventually help millions of diabetics

(NBC) - Millions of Americans suffer from Type 1 diabetes. Regulating their blood sugar becomes a constant task. But thanks to fundraising efforts around the country, researchers and scientists have started developing a piece of technology that will help keep millions of diabetes sufferers safe. It's an artificial pancreas.

Three-year-old Harris Medow likes to play fix-it. But sometimes, he has a big job of making sure his dad Aron doesn't break.

"I know he's only three, but it's helpful having somebody else around if something goes wrong," said Nellie Medow, Aron's wife.

Aron Medow, a busy father of two, has Type 1 diabetes.

"I was just in the kitchen and Harris came in and asked for something to drink. And I said, sure and I started looking for a glass to get him juice, whatever, the next thing I know, he's tugging on my pant leg, like 'Dad, I'm thirsty' - he's tearing up. And I looked over at the clock and I realize it's probably been about half an hour," Aron said.

Aron wears monitors to keep him aware of his blood sugar levels.

"The insulin pump is here. This gives the insulin, and the other is a continuous glucose monitor. And that polls my blood sugar every minute," said Aron.

That does not keep him completely safe, but the technology to do that is now in the works. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Doundation and Ameris Corporation is developing an artificial pancreas, something talked about for years, but now the funding is available to create it. People like Aron would no longer have to manually give themselves insulin shots.

"It will eliminate that, so that the device would automatically shut off insulin to the body without the diabetic themselves having to manually do that," said Laura Chalker of JDRF.

The breakthrough would allow Aron to concentrate on his family and his work, rather than his wife and kids worrying about a breakdown.

"Well, for the first time in my life I have a safety net," Aron said. "For the first time ever, managing this disease, all of a sudden there would be something between me and having my co-workers or my wife or my kids suddenly notice something is wrong."

The development of this technology will probably take about four years to complete and will take about five to come out into the market. It will perform almost exactly like a pancreas. The device will deliver insulin, will continuously monitor glucose, and control the proper amount of delivery at the right time.

(Copyright 2010 NBC News. All Rights Reserved.)