Wearable and implantable pancreas substitutes
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A lifelong-implanted and completely automated artificial or bioartificial pancreas (BAP) is the holy grail for type 1 diabetes treatment, and could be a definitive solution even for other severe pathologies, such as pancreatitis and pancreas cancer. Technology has made several important steps forward in the last years, providing new hope for the realization of such devices, whose feasibility is strictly connected to advances in glucose sensor technology, subcutaneous and intraperitoneal insulin pump development, the design of closed-loop control algorithms for mechatronic pancreases, as well as cell and tissue engineering and cell encapsulation for biohybrid pancreases. Furthermore, smart integration of the mentioned components and biocompatibility issues must be addressed, bearing in mind that, for mechatronic pancreases, it is most important to consider how to recharge implanted batteries and refill implanted insulin reservoirs without requiring periodic surgical interventions. This review describes recent advancements in technologies and concepts related to artificial and bioartificial pancreases, and assesses how far we are from a lifelong-implanted and self-working pancreas substitute that can fully restore the quality of life of a diabetic (or other type of) patient.