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Meet the Father and Son Behind a Diabetes Device With Life-Changing Potential

2 minute read

For most of his life, David Damiano has watched his father build a bionic pancreas that was inspired by him.

David, 16, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 11 months old. Like 1.25 million other Americans, his life depends on constantly tracking and precisely adjusting his blood sugar. If it’s too high, he feels nauseated and has to inject himself with insulin through a pump attached to his body. If it’s too low, he becomes delirious and shaky and needs to eat something high in carbohydrates–fast.

“The problem is that even if you’ve had diabetes your entire lifetime, it’s inevitable that you will at some point forget about giving a bolus, or eating carbs,” David said.

His father, Ed Damiano, wanted to create something that automates the moment-to-moment monitoring and medicating. A professor of biomedical engineering at Boston University, Damiano has made it his mission to build a portable, wearable bionic pancreas.

After more than a decade of research and experimental work, Damiano released the latest prototype of the bionic pancreas, the iLet, in July 2015. Though the device is not yet FDA-approved, Damiano hopes to enter the final phase of clinical trials in early 2017.

Read more about the bionic pancreas here.

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Write to Diane Tsai at diane.tsai@time.com