New initiative explores ways forward for DIY ‘open source’ diabetes technology systems

Posted on 18 October 2017

A new JDRF initiative announced today will support people with type 1 diabetes who wish to use ‘DIY’ tools and data sharing to support them in managing their condition.

Diabetes technologies, such as insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors automate insulin delivery. Use of such devices can help people with type 1 diabetes and their loved ones better manage this tricky condition.

These systems can also help reduce HbA1c and instances of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia, as well as helping increase the time in a healthy blood glucose level range.

So-called open source systems involve software for which the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified. In practice, this gives people using type 1 diabetes technology the ability to share their data and make programmes that can help them deliver insulin to manage their condition, then share this software for others to use and adapt.

The new initiative announced today will explore ways to overcome potential challenges in the use and adoption of open source systems, also known as open protocol systems.

JDRF will work internationally to help establish clear financial, regulatory and legal frameworks and coordinate with regulators and legal advisers. This will also include working with device manufacturers to update communication protocols on their devices to enable seamless, secure connectivity with other devices, such as by using Bluetooth technology.

While the technology exists and is becoming well known, there are risks and other logistical hurdles that need to be overcome in order to give people with type 1 diabetes access to the benefits of such developments.

JDRF’s Chief Mission Officer, Aaron Kowalski said of today’s news:

“JDRF is firmly committed to ensuring people with type 1 diabetes have access to tools that improve their lives as we drive towards a cure.

“Automated insulin delivery systems are already benefiting people with type 1 diabetes, and open-protocol innovation is providing additional solutions. JDRF will explore means to ensure innovation continues at a rapid pace and that we tap the best people from diverse fields to support progress in this area.”

“To support innovation and enable type 1 diabetes families to use an open-protocol approach safely, we need to ensure the regulatory pathway is clear, and we will work with industry stakeholders to make devices compatible.

“By making this approach more accessible to a wider group of people with type 1 diabetes, users of diabetes technology will be able to manage their blood glucose levels better, and in a way that works best for them.”