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Artificial pancreas shows positive results in adults

By Editor
14th February 2017
Continuous glucose monitoring, Hypoglycaemia Insulin pumps Lead stories Research

Closed loop systems improve glucose control while also alleviating the risk of hypoglycaemia in adults, research has shown.

The device, otherwise known as the artificial pancreas, is a technological aid for managing type 1 diabetes, and comprises of a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) which sends glucose reading every few minutes to an insulin pump.

A computer algorithm then decides, based on the glucose readings, how much insulin the pump should infuse to keep blood glucose levels between the tight target levels.

A JDRF funded trial featured 30 adults whose HbA1c was below 7.5 per cent (58 mmol/mol). As part of the study, one half of the group were given an artificial pancreas to use for four weeks.

The other half were asked to continue with their usual pump management, which involved bolusing for meals and constantly infusing extra insulin throughout the day manually for daily fluctuations in blood glucose.

After four weeks, the two groups swapped over, and used the alternative system. The team from Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge and the Medical University of Graz in Austria found that when the participants used the artificial pancreas their time in target blood glucose levels was 10.5 per cent higher than those on usual pump therapy – 65.6 per cent compared to 76.2 per cent.

Hypoglycaemia reduction

There was also a reduction in hypoglycaemia when using the closed loop system, with 65 per cent less time below 3.5 mmol/L and 76 per cent below 2.9mmol/L. There were no episodes of serious hypoglycaemia in any of the participants during the study.

Jennifer Burton, JDRF research communications officer, said: “To take a group of already really well controlled people with type 1 and improve their time in target by 10 per cent with less intervention is very exciting, this shows these devices can work in real life settings.”

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