Artificial Pancreas Gets Long-Term Real Trial
Researchers will measure how well the new technology helps people with type 1 diabetes
By Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, Jan. 5, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- A long-term clinical trial of an artificial pancreas designed to control blood sugar levels in people with type 1 diabetes will begin early this year.
The artificial pancreas will be tested for six months in 240 people with type 1 diabetes at nine sites in the United States and Europe. Researchers will compare this system to current diabetes management with an insulin pump. Then, 180 of those patients will be followed for another six months, the researchers said.
The wearable system -- developed by University of Virginia and Harvard University researchers with almost $13 million in funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health -- supplies appropriate amounts of insulin by detecting changes in the body and predicting blood sugar levels in advance.
"The idea is that this can lead to an improved quality of life for individuals with this disease -- not a solution to diabetes, but a means to really extend the quality of their healthful living," co-principal investigator Francis Doyle III said in a joint news release from Harvard University and the University of Virginia School of Medicine. Doyle is dean of Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
About 1.25 million Americans have type 1 diabetes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In type 1 diabetes, the body's immune system mistakenly destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Insulin is a hormone that plays a key role in regulating blood sugar levels in the body. People with type 1 diabetes must replace that lost insulin, either through multiple daily injections or via a thin tube inserted under the skin that's then attached to an insulin pump.
The artificial pancreas is not a replica of a human pancreas. Instead, it consists of an insulin pump with tubing inserted under the skin, a blood sugar monitor with a wire sensor placed under the skin, and a smart phone loaded with software that determines how much insulin is required based on factors such as food intake, physical activity, stress, metabolism and sleep.