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Artificial pancreas ‘could be ready in two years’

By Editor
6th July 2016
Insulin pumps, Latest news Medical devices Research

The world’s first artificial pancreas could be available to people with diabetes in two years, researchers have said.

The small, portable device, which monitors blood glucose in people with type 1 diabetes, could revolutionise treatment of the condition.

It has been designed to automatically adjusts levels of insulin entering the body and might mean the end of regular finger-pricking tests and insulin injections.

Current available technology allows insulin pumps to deliver insulin to people with diabetes based on readings taken from glucose meters.

But the latest development joins together these two separate processes in a single piece of technology which is also known as a ‘closed loop’ system.

Researchers from the Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology at the University of Cambridge developed the device and have written a paper which has been published in the journal Diabetologia.

Dr Roman Hovorka said: “In trials to date, users have been positive about how use of an artificial pancreas gives them ‘time off’ or a ‘holiday’ from their diabetes management, since the system is managing their blood sugar effectively without the need for constant monitoring by the user.”

It is likely the piece of equipment will be available by 2018 once a number of issues have been ironed out, including speed of the insulin forms used, glucose monitor accuracy, convenience and cyber-security.

Dr Hovorka said: “Prolonged six to 24 month multi-national closed loop clinical trials and pivotal studies are underway or in preparation including adults and children.

“As closed loop devices may be vulnerable to cyber security threats such as interference with wireless protocols and unauthorised data retrieval, implementation of secure communications protocols is a must.”

The US Food and Drug Administration is currently reviewing one proposed artificial pancreas with approval possibly as soon as 2017.

And a recent review by the UK National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) reported automated closed loop systems may be expected to appear in the European market by the end of 2018.

Dr Hovorka added: “Cost effectiveness of closed-loop is to be determined to support access and reimbursement.

“Significant milestones moving the artificial pancreas from laboratory to free living unsupervised home settings have been achieved in the past decade.

“Through inter-disciplinary collaboration, teams worldwide have accelerated progress and real-world closed-loop applications have been demonstrated.

“Given the challenges of beta-cell transplantation, closed-loop technologies are, with continuing innovation potential, destined to provide a viable alternative for existing insulin pump therapy and multiple daily insulin injections.”

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