Tandem, JDRF ally on artificial pancreas project

Tandem Diabetes Care is jumping on the artificial pancreas bandwagon with plans to develop a first-ever dual chamber infusion pump to help manage diabetes.

The pump will help propel development of what the company calls a first-of-its kind "fully automated artificial pancreas system" that gives patients insulin but also delivers two injectable hormonal drug therapies at the same time. Current models only provide one hormone, and the advance will help patients with Type 1 diabetes more precisely manage insulin levels and balance hormones that go off-kilter with the disease. If all goes well, the external product would more closely do what a healthy pancreas does.

Tandem isn't alone in the project. It is partnering with the JDRF, which will provide financial funding based on milestones over the next two years. Over that time frame, the goal is to complete development, testing and manufacturing of such a pump. Neither side disclosed specific financial details.

Tandem isn't the only company involved in an artificial pancreas project. Others such as Medtronic ($MDT) are actively pursuing the effort, and all involve variations of combining an insulin pump with a continuous glucose monitor that would more tightly control blood sugar levels.

Tandem, however, is an intriguing candidate for the job. The San Diego company is perhaps best known for t:slim, a touch-screen insulin pump that gained 510(k) clearance in winter 2011 and has been shipping out to customers since last August. And the company already has a partnership with DexCom ($DXCM) to help that company develop next-generation glucose monitoring devices.

The company also raised $36.4 million in September 2012 in what is designed to become a $50 million funding round, one of the top venture capital deals for medical device companies in the 2012 third quarter.

- read the release

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