First official ‘hybrid closed-loop’ insulin delivery system for type 1 diabetes launched in UK

Posted on 27 March 2019

Type 1 diabetes technology MiniMed 670G

The world’s first officially regulated, hybrid closed-loop system is launched today in the UK.

The MiniMed 670G is a self-adjusting insulin pump system and the first to automate and personalise the delivery of basal insulin, 24 hours a day. It has been available in the US since 2016.

The system uses artificial intelligence to adjust the delivery of insulin automatically, mimicking some of the functions of a healthy pancreas by making micro adjustments to insulin delivery every five minutes to stabilise glucose levels.

This is a significant milestone in the JDRF strategy to provide life-changing treatment for people with type 1 diabetes, and a crucial step closer towards fully automated, closed-loop ‘artificial pancreas’ technology.

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF in the UK said: “Type 1 diabetes can be tough to live with. But new technologies can reduce the burden, offering individuals and their families the chance to think less about the condition.

“JDRF provided initial funding that supported research into closed-loop systems, as part of its mission to provide life-changing treatments whilst researching the cure.”

Artificial pancreas

Other technologies also in the pipeline and receiving funding support from JDRF include Professor Roman Hovorka’s artificial pancreas system at the University of Cambridge.

This will be fully automated and closed loop when it becomes available. It will also be an open protocol system, meaning that any insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor (CGM) can communicate with Professor Hovorka’s algorithm, regardless of the manufacturer.

There is also the option to access free open-source technology which provides the means to create your own way of automating insulin delivery. This process, known as ‘DIY closed-looping’, is on the rise and enabling more and more patients to become experts at managing their condition.

However they do this at their own risk as healthcare professionals in the UK do not have the medical indemnity to support patients using devices in a way for which they were not regulated.

Blood sugar monitoring

Laura Dunion from Oulton, Yorkshire, who is 17 and has had type 1 diabetes since she was eight, was one of three people to be given the MiniMed 670G in the UK in November 2018. She said: “This technology helps me feel more independent – with less blood sugar checks I don’t have to spend so much time worrying about my type 1.”

Laura’s mother, Lynn Dunion, said the technology has also helped her: “It is a huge fear for parents that children will have a hypo during the night so this is life-changing for me too.”

Some areas in the UK are providing the system on the NHS, but this is not a guarantee that a local area will fund it. If funding isn’t available there is the option to self-fund for those who can afford it – but those who wish to will still need to be supported by their healthcare team.

JDRF believes that everyone with type 1 diabetes who wants and would benefit from technology such as this should be able to access it, regardless of where they live.

The MiniMed 670G can be used by people over the age of seven who take at least eight units of insulin a day and meet national guidelines and criteria. It is not recommended if you are pregnant.

Clinical criteria for both insulin pump and CGM systems can be found in NICE guidelines, and local policies are in place for funding.

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