First ever home trial of artificial pancreas for diabetes treatment

Mon, 10 Jun 2013
Five people in the UK with type 1 diabetes have made history by becoming the first to successfully use an artificial pancreas in their own homes.

Created by researchers from the University of Cambridge, the 'closed loop' device monitors blood glucose levels minute-by-minute and uses infrared technology to relay this information to an insulin pump attached to the patient's body, which then delivers the correct amount of insulin into the blood stream.

This not only eliminates the need for multiple daily injections of insulin, but also means patients with 1 diabetes may no longer have to manually monitor their blood sugars .

The artificial pancreas had previously been trialled in a hospital setting, but the scientists have now successfully tested it in a home environment.

Five adults with type 1 diabetes used the artificial pancreas at home to control their condition without medical supervision, which according to Diabetes UK marks a landmark in the history of diabetes research. Feedback was very positive, with the participants reporting enormous benefits.

Diabetes UK, which is funding the research, said by the end of the year 24 people will have taken part in the home-based trial of the system, which involves using the artificial pancreas at night - when blood glucose can drop significantly - for four weeks, followed by a further four weeks of standard treatment .

Dr Alasdair Rankin, the charity's director of research, said: "It is still early days and even if this trial shows that the artificial pancreas can be used safely and effectively in people's homes, there will need to be bigger trials before it can be offered as a routine treatment.

"But I think we are talking years rather than decades before this becomes a reality."

He added: "As the technology progresses, we expect to make Type 1 diabetes an increasingly manageable condition until eventually we will reach the point where people might check their artificial pancreas when they get up in the morning and then do not have to think about their diabetes for the rest of the day."
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