The University of Cambridge is home to one of the core research groups that make up the JDRF Artificial Pancreas Consortium. Here, they are creating the sophisticated computer program that links the continuous glucose monitor to the insulin pump.
The group is led by Dr Roman Hovorka, a specialist in creating computer programs that mimic how the body works. His team is focusing on developing an artificial pancreas system specifically for controlling glucose levels overnight.
‘Parents of children with type 1 diabetes told us that night-time is the time of day they worry about most,’ said Janet Allen, one of the team’s research nurses.
The system being developed would be able to take over managing insulin delivery at bedtime, and keep blood glucose levels in check until the person wakes up in the morning.
In April 2014, the team announced the results of a trial that showed for the first time that the artificial pancreas can be used safely overnight without supervision.
The participants, who were between 12 and 18 years old, saw improved blood glucose control during the study and experienced fewer nights with hypoglycaemic episodes.
Over the course of three weeks, they spent 64% of nights in the target glucose range (3.9 to 8.0 mmol/L), compared to 47% when using a pump alone.
Importantly, in contrast to previous hospital-based trials, the participants all used the artificial pancreas in their homes and without the close supervision of researchers.
You can read more about the results of the trial on our news page.
The next step for the Cambridge team is to collect data over a longer period of time. They are now running a three-month trial with young people, which should finish in 2015.
This vital research is expensive, and still needs your support – to continue to make progress, JDRF must invest hundreds of thousands of pounds each year. Find out more about how you can support JDRF’s research programme here.