Latest artificial pancreas projects show promise for the future of type 1 diabetes treatment

Posted on 16 June 2014

Two artificial pancreas projects have broken in the news this week, having shown significant promise for the future of worldwide type 1 diabetes treatment.

The first study – an artificial pancreas project co-ordinated by the University of Cambridge and funded by Diabetes UK – has shown for the first time in adults that the technology can be used at home and unsupervised.

Participants in the trial saw overall improved blood glucose control over the course of four weeks, with no increase in the amount of time spent in hypoglycaemia. The study follows recent JDRF-funded research that revealed the technology can be used safely by adolescents at home without supervision.

JDRF is the world’s leading charitable funder of type 1 diabetes research – and the artificial pancreas is a worldwide project. We have research teams based all over the world, collaborating with other teams to draw in different expertise.

Dr Roman Hovorka, lead author of the study at the University of Cambridge, told the Daily Mail: “The advantage of a system like this one is the ability to fine tune insulin delivery to account for variations in overnight insulin needs.

‘The system was able to safely cope with these variations to achieve more consistent glucose control. Its benefits apply to a wide range of individuals.’

boston bionic pancreas deviceThis news comes at the same time as separate artificial pancreas research is published in the United States. Referred to as a ‘bionic pancreas’, the five day study co-ordinated by Boston University was carried out 24 hours a day in both adults and adolescents. The smart phone-linked device can dispense both insulin and glucagon to participants.

Whereas insulin works to reduce the level of glucose in the blood, glucagon increases it.

The senior author of the study, Professor Edward Damiano, has a 15 year old son with type 1 diabetes. He told the New York Times that he was determined to get the new device working and approved in time for his son to go off to college carrying one.

JDRF funded previous research with Dr. Damiano that helped lay the foundation for his current study and these results.

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF said: ‘We congratulate Dr Hovorka, our friends at Diabetes UK and the team at Boston University on the promising results of these trials.  Continued collaboration is vital to make this technology a reality.

‘Type 1 diabetes is a challenging condition. I look forward to the day the artificial pancreas can finally be placed in the hands of patients – changing the lives of the 400,000 people that live with the condition in the UK.’