By BridgeNews Medical technology company Medtronic Inc., Minneapolis, will spend $3.7 billion to acquire MiniMed Inc. and Medical Research Group, two companies that are working to develop an "artificial pancreas" for diabetics. MiniMed makes insulin pumps and glucose monitoring systems, while the privately held Medical Research Group makes implantable insulin delivery systems. "MiniMed's market leadership in diabetes management offers immediate opportunities for reaching an expanding market that includes more than 16 million people in the United States," says Art Collins, Medtronic's CEO. "In addition, we believe that MRG's implantable glucose monitoring and insulin delivery systems fit Medtronic's longer-term strategic objective of providing lifelong solutions for people with chronic diseases." MRG is already collaborating with MiniMed to develop what Medtronic called an "artificial pancreas" -- an implantable insulin pump and a fully implanted long-term glucose sensor. Together, the products would create a system that would detect and control variations in diabetics' blood glucose levels without their needing to test their blood or take insulin shots. The purchase agreements, valued at $3.7 billion, include a cash offer of $48 per share for MiniMed and a payment of about $420 million in cash and stock for MRG. MiniMed is a shareholder of MRG. The acquisitions are scheduled to close by the end of September. In a statement explaining the deals, Medtronic said about 16 million Americans have diabetes, and 4.6 million of them must receive insulin through injections or external or implantable pumps in order to regulate their blood glucose. The medical cost of the disease totals $44 billion per year in the United States.