Sue Marshall blogs about diabetes for Desang

Artificial Pancreas Project in Cambridge – new results | March 9, 2010

‘The artificial pancreas’, a new system that can cut the risk of hypoglycemia has been successfully developed by a team at the University of Cambridge according to new results.

Results from the JDRF Artificial Pancreas research project in Cambridge were published in leading medical journal ‘The Lancet’. The news has been attracting lots of positive attention from the media – spreading the word about this fantastic piece of JDRF research.

The results show that Dr Roman Hovorka’s team at the University of Cambridge have successfully developed a system that can significantly cut the risk of overnight hypoglycemia. The article provides confirmation of the early results many of you will have seen before.

The article in The Lancet provides doctors and researchers around the world with an opportunity to read about how the artificial pancreas trials in Cambridge were conducted, to see all the data and understand how the development of the artificial pancreas system is progressing. This is vital in proving the scientific credibility of the system – and the fact that the results have been published in such a prestigious journal is a testament to the high quality of the research conducted by Dr Hovorka.

The results came from 54 nights that 17 children and teenagers aged between 5 and 18 with type 1 diabetes volunteered to spend in hospital as part of the study.

The pooled results from the study showed the artificial pancreas kept blood glucose levels in the normal range for 60% of the time, whereas standard insulin pump therapy only managed to keep levels in the normal range for 40% of the time. The artificial pancreas was able to halve the time that blood glucose levels fell below 3.9mmol/l – the level doctors define as ‘mild hypoglycaemia’.

Most significantly for families affected by type 1, the system completely prevented blood glucose falling below 3.0mmol/l – defined as ‘significant hypoglycaemia’. In contrast, while the children were using just their insulin pumps in the control studies there were nine significant hypoglycaemia events.

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF commented: “This study is proof of principle that type 1 diabetes in children can be safely managed overnight with an artificial pancreas system. We need to redouble our efforts to move the artificial pancreas from a concept in the clinic to a reality in the home of children and adults with type 1 diabetes.”

The start of 2010 has also seen two other JDRF announcements demonstrating how we’re speeding the development of a real, commercially available Artificial Pancreas system for people with type 1 diabetes.

On 13th January JDRF announced a new partnership with medical device manufacturer Animas (a Johnson and Johnson company). JDRF is investing $8 million in the project over the next four years.

By the end of these four years we hope the partnership will have developed a ‘first generation’ artificial pancreas system to the point that it is ready to go forward for approval by regulatory bodies like the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMEA).

The goal is to develop a system that can prevent the extremes of both hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia automatically – but will still need some input from the wearer, such as informing the system of meal times of periods of exercise. Read more…

The other exciting announcement came on 19th January, when JDRF announced another partnership – this time focusing on developing better insulin pumps. This $4.3 million partnership with BD, a medical technology company based in New Jersey, USA will investigate whether the company’s innovative ‘microneedle’ technology can be used to create better pumps that are easier to use and deliver insulin to the body more quickly. And because the needles are so tiny, they may also provide an almost painfree way of delivering insulin. Read more…
“Better control means better health outcomes for people with type 1 diabetes,” said Dr Alan Lewis, President and Chief Executive Officer of JDRF International. “Constantly improving the technological tools to dispense insulin will lead to greater adoption of these methods – and so healthier lives for everyone affected by type 1.”

Read more about JDRF’s work on the artificial pancreas project and how we’re working to take these systems from research to reality.

This research is only possible thanks to the generosity of JDRF’s supporters. Find out how you can help us to fund this vital research.

Via: Artificial Pancreas Project in Cambridge – new results


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