Study Shows Promise for Artificial Pancreas

| Jul 17, 2013

Insulin pump maker Animas has taken another step toward perfecting (and hopefully putting on sale) the first artificial pancreas. The company doesn't call it anything that clear-cut, instead referring to the device as "a closed-loop insulin delivery system."

Whatever you call it, the system is based on a simple concept. What if you could make your insulin pump talk to your continuous blood glucose monitor? As your blood sugar rose or fell, the pump would supply more or less insulin as needed.

In real life, of course, much more work and study is required. That's what Animas is doing-specifically studying the two devices working in concert with an algorithm that helps predict where the patient's blood sugar is headed. And the news there is good.

The second phases of a human feasibility trial-focusing on how the system worked overnight-found that it was effective. The 20 people testing the system had blood sugars that averaged between 70 mg/dL and 180 mg/dL for 90 percent of those nighttime hours. Less than half of those trial participants had blood sugars that dipped below 70.

"Avoiding hypoglycemia during the overnight period is a primary concern for people with diabetes, so maintaining safe glucose levels during this time frame is crucial in helping to not only achieve better control, but also helps ease worry throughout the night," said Ramakrishna Venugopalan, Animas's director of research and development. "We are encouraged by the results of this overnight study, and we are excited to be one step closer to bringing this technology to patients."

The results were presented last month at an American Diabetes Association meeting in Chicago. Others involved in the study were the University of California, Santa Barbara; Sansum Diabetes Research Institute; and the Center for Diabetes Technology at the University of Virginia.

The road to this point has already taken a couple of years to travel. Animas began work on the project back in 2010, and received the okay from the Food and Drug Administration to start testing in 2011. The device remains in development, and much work and study clearly remains to be done.

That being said, the artificial pancreas looks like one of the more promising treatments for type 1 diabetics currently under development. The technology to make it work-insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors-already exists. And as shown in this early study, the algorithm linking them together shows promise, if not perfection.

As always, stay tuned.


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Categories: Animas, Artificial Pancreas, Continuous Glucose Monitors, Hypoglycemia, Insulin Pumps

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Posted by shosty on 23 July 2013

Really, only half had lows overnight? Gee, will they be saying only 25% died of a low overnight?

This is not ever going to be a viable or safe treatment for type 1. Period. Bring back the option of an implanted pump. Keep trying for a cure. This handy dandy combination of devices is not the answer and is not even safe but they will continue to push it so they can make money.

Posted by Anonymous on 23 July 2013

I agree with Shotsy. They haven't perfected CGMS yet so I don't see how this is any better than the current technologies. They need to just come up with a cure. I agree that money for the corporations is the driver here and is what slows any cure because the Corporations rule. Food for thought, How can we as a society change that paradigm?

Posted by Anonymous on 25 July 2013

I have a hard time complaining about something that would make it easier to control my sugars. But if this research is taking away from finding a cure, then I agree that they need to focus on a cure. I guess it depends on who is doing the research. This sounds like the medical device company is doing this research, which makes sense that they would focus on devices and not a cure. The non-profit organizations, on the other hand, should focus on a cure.

Posted by Anonymous on 27 July 2013

This is just what the JDRF and like non-profits want. A reason to move funds away from a cure and focus on treatment. The JDRF is no different than any other corporation wanting to STAY in business. They have pumped millions into the AP, investing in Medtronic, who also donates $250k year to JDRF. Huh? We don't need multiple catheters, expensive tech, and expensive insulin analogs. We consistently hear how expensive clinical trials are but it also doesn't help to divert millions from cure therapies to tech/maintenance. Clinical trials are expensive so the FDA can create obstacles and reinforce investment in medicinal drugs, keeping big pharma in business. I've been a T1 for 32 years and I am disgusted with the lack of BEDSIDE progress for NON-INVASIVE treatments. The JDRF should embrace an updated slogan, Empty Promises & False Hopes.

Posted by Anonymous on 1 December 2014

I use a pump and CGM. I use an intutive tempered with fact approach in that I estimate bolus when I eat and then correct 2 hours later. If the CGM alerts me to a very rapid rise I bolus for the blood sugar level and bump up the basal. If it alerts me to a rapid drop then I back off on the basal before considering eating to correct it. I beleive I must be actively involved in my health care. My A1c is 6.2.

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