WASHINGTON D.C.—The Department of Energy today awarded a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory research team led by physicist Stephen Lane with the Bright Light Award for its work developing an implantable device to monitor glucose levels in diabetes patients. The Livermore team is one of five research groups honored nationwide for its work on a recent consumer-oriented innovation. Other members of the Livermore development team are physicists Tom Peyser, Chris Darow and Natasha Zaitseva and chemists Joe Satcher and Doug Gary.
Lane, who is associate program leader for Livermore’s Medical Technology Program, has been working on the biomechanical pancreas to manage diabetes for more than five years. Through the lab’s work and a partnership with MiniMed Inc. (Nasdaq: MNMD) of Sylmar, Calif. the biomechanical pancreas would work in both Types 1 and 2 diabetes patients. A sensor would be imbedded under the skin of patients to help them constantly maintain near normal glucose levels, an extremely difficult task using current therapeutic methods. The sensor would signal an insulin pump that administers insulin, when needed, to the patient to control his or her glucose level.
An estimated 16 million Americans suffer from diabetes. In 1998, diabetes was responsible for the deaths of 200,000 Americans making it the third leading cause of death by disease in the United States.
"Even with the best treatment protocols, diabetics have, on average, more than the normal amount of glucose in their system…after
many years, this can result in stroke, heart disease, kidney failure, blindness and amputations," Lane said.
Lane said the biomechanical pancreas will help eliminate the pain and inconvenience of testing and injections those diabetic patients go through in a given day. Though its still in an early developmental stage, Lane said he hopes the device will eventually eliminate the risk of long-term maladies that affect diabetes patients.
The Bright Light Award is selected by a panel of DOE Citizen Judges, who choose innovations from among 23 discoveries or innovations hatched between 1999 and 2000. The innovations must demonstrate a benefit to the American public, be a contribution to U.S. competitiveness in the global marketplace and have the potential for significant future growth.
"We are extremely proud that DOE has selected one of the extraordinary achievements made by the Laboratory's Medical Technology Program team for the Bright Light Award," said Jeff Wadsworth, deputy director for Science and Technology. "This award proves the Laboratory continues to make significant contributions that benefit the quality of life."
The Bright Light Award is part of DOE’s Energy 100 list, which honors 23 years of the best scientific and technological accomplishments the Department of Energy has to offer since the department was created in 1977. The achievements were nominated for review by DOE lab, program and field offices. A panel of citizen judges evaluated the achievements based on consumer orientation, whether it saves money and its ability to improve American quality of life.
Medical device research in LLNL’s Medical Technology Program is partially funded by DOE’s Medical Sciences Division.