Fifteen-year-old Caroline Jacobs of Shapleigh lobbied in Washington this summer for federal regulators to allow at-home trials of an artificial pancreas that could improve the lives of Jacobs and other type 1 diabetes patients.

Now the freshman at The New School in Kennebunk is hoping to move from teen lobbyist to test patient with the news last week that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given permission to hold trials outside of hospitals.

Jacobs was a delegate in June to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Children’s Congress and testified at a Senate hearing on diabetes research chaired by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who founded the Senate Diabetes Caucus.

Advocates hoped the hearing would push the FDA to issue a plan for launching outpatient trials. That’s what the FDA did last week, with trials expected to begin during the second half of 2012.

The artificial pancreas uses insulin pumps and glucose monitors to automatically control blood sugar levels so diabetes patients don’t have to endure frequent blood tests and injections.

“I am eager to see the artificial pancreas working in real-life situations and would love to be one of the kids to test it,” Jacobs said. “Being at the hearing in June and listening to the FDA talk, I did not fully have confidence in them and was worried they would take years to approve the home trials.”

Got (raw) milk?

Rep. Chellie Pingree says federal regulators should have better things to do than hassle small farmers who produce raw, or unpasteurized, milk.

Pingree said in a letter to U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg that small farmers produce raw milk safely and meet a desire by many people to know where their milk comes from.

The intrastate sale and distribution of raw milk is OK in many states, including Maine. And the FDA said in a statement last month it doesn’t take action against individuals who buy and transport raw milk across state lines only for personal consumption.

But Pingree said in her Nov. 18 letter that she is hearing reports from constituents and around the country of raids on small farms and “what many believe to be overly zealous enforcement of the ban on the interstate sale of raw milk.”

Pingree didn’t cite examples, but her office said last week the concerns are about “what they’ve seen the FDA do in other states” outside Maine.

The FDA acknowledges that some people believe unpasteurized milk tastes better and is more nutritious than pasteurized milk. But the pasteurization process kills potentially dangerous bacteria, the FDA says.

Pingree is a member of the House Agriculture Committee and has a small farm at her home on the island of North Haven, but does not produce raw milk, her office said.

As of last week, Pingree hadn’t gotten a response from the FDA. An FDA spokeswoman declined comment last week, saying the agency would respond directly to Pingree.

Barton nominated for post

A Maine native is being nominated for a State Department post by President Barack Obama.

Frederick “Rick” Barton, a Portland native, last week was named to a new post that is quite a mouthful: assistant secretary for conflict and stabilization operations and coordinator for reconstruction and stabilization.

Barton would head the newly created Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, which is designed to help drive civilian efforts to set “conditions for long-term peace” in war-torn countries, according to the State Department.

Barton, 62, currently is a senior adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and has held a variety of diplomatic and think tank posts in Washington and abroad since he left Portland in 1994, where he was president of Barton & Gingold, a strategy and public relations firm, according to the White House.

It is up to the Senate to confirm Barton’s nomination.

MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be contacted at 791-6280 or at:

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