First prototypes of disposable insulin nanopump for continuous
29 June 2008
Debiotech and STMicroelectronics (NYSE:STM) have introduced the first
evaluation prototypes of a unique miniaturized insulin-delivery pump
that could improve the treatment efficiency and the quality of life of
diabetics. The miniature pump has successfully passed initial testing
stages and is now ready to enter volume manufacturing.
The breakthrough nanopump, uses microfluidic MEMS
(micro-electro-mechanical system) technology and can be mounted on a
disposable skin patch to provide continuous insulin infusion.
The pump combines Debiotech's expertise in insulin delivery systems
with ST's strengths in manufacturing high-volume silicon-based
microfluidic devices. The nanopump is less than one fourth the size of
existing insulin-pump devices and can be worn as a nearly invisible
patch on the skin.
Microfluidic technology also provides better control of the
administered insulin doses, more closely mimicking the natural secretion
of insulin from the pancreas, while detecting potential malfunctions of
the pump to further protect patients.
As a disposable device, manufactured using high-volume semiconductor
processing technologies, the MEMS-based nanopump is also much more
affordable, allowing the patient or the health system to avoid the
substantial up-front investment typically associated with current pump
Insulin pump therapy, or continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion (CSII),
is an increasingly attractive alternative to individual insulin
injections that must be administered several times a day. With CSII, the
patient is connected to a programmable pump including a storage
reservoir, from which insulin is infused into the tissue under the skin
throughout the day according to specific needs as programmed by the
The insulin nanopump, developed by Debiotech and industrialized by
ST, represents the most advanced use of microfluidic MEMS technology in
"The success of the initial prototype tests has moved the
revolutionary insulin nanopump a step closer to market availability,"
said Benedetto Vigna, Group Vice President and General Manager of ST's
MEMS and Healthcare, RF Transceivers and Sensors Division. "Working with
our key partner Debiotech, we are readying a tiny piece of silicon that
can make a huge difference to millions of diabetes patients around the
"This important milestone in the industrial production of the insulin
nanopump is a key achievement toward the successful launch of a new
drug-delivery device, combining the highest level of reliability and
performance with an previously unmet level of convenience and safety for
the patient," said Dr. Frederic Neftel, President and CEO of Debiotech.
"The collaboration with ST has proven to be extremely efficient in time
and achievements, allowing us to now concentrate on a future partnership
with a leading medical device company who will be responsible to
introduce the product on the market."
There are almost 250 million people affected by diabetes worldwide
and the number is expected to grow over the next decade due to
population growth, ageing and life style. Without proper treatment,
diabetes can lead to cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, blindness,
nerve damage, and ultimately death. Diabetes is a leading cause of death
in most developed countries.
The market for insulin pump therapy is growing rapidly: according to
HSBC, the worldwide market for insulin pump therapy is expected to grow
from $800 million in 2004 to $1.6 billion by 2009.