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One step closer to the artificial pancreas

14 September 2012

JDRF-funded researchers at the University of Cambridge have taken one more step towards making the artificial pancreas a reality.

In a new research paper published this week Dr Daniella Ellleri compared the ability of a portable artificial pancreas to control blood glucose levels overnight when starting it at 6pm (teatime) or at 9pm (bedtime).

The team found that when using the artificial pancreas from 6pm until 8am blood glucose levels were kept in the target range for 82% of the time.  No human intervention was needed at any point once the artificial pancreas was connected.

The system tested in this study is an updated and more portable version of the prototype which the team have been using in previous trials. The study evaluated its ability to control blood glucose levels overnight in hospital, and has helped to pave the way for trials with the portable artificial pancreas outside of a hospital setting. These new trials will give the research team an insight into how well the system can manage glucose control as part of the normal home routine of people with type 1.

The artificial pancreas is a closed-loop insulin delivery system that consists of an insulin pump, a continuous glucose monitor and a computer algorithm. The computer algorithm can take the measurements from the glucose monitor and tell the pump when to administer insulin. The system can keep a much tighter control of blood glucose levels than pump use alone and needs minimal user input.

Maebh Kelly, Research Communication Officer at JDRF, said, ‘This research is another step towards the development of a fully functional artificial pancreas, which will vastly improve the lives of people with type 1. The next step, home trials, will be the biggest test yet of the system’s abililty to control blood glucose levels overnight.’

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