A collaboration between universities in America and Canada is set to develop an artificial pancreas system that can respond well to the sharp swings in blood glucose levels that typically affect people with type 1 diabetes during and after exercise.
The collaboration includes the Chicago based Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Illinois and University of Chicago and also York University in Toronto. The research has received a $2.5 million grant courtesy of the US National Institutes of Health.
An artificial pancreas is a system that uses the combination of an insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to respond to rises and drops in blood glucose levels by reducing and increasing insulin rates respectively. Artificial pancreas systems are being seen as the future of diabetes care as it reduces the need for patients to second guess how their blood sugar levels are reacting to food, activity and other factors including stress.
The need for more sophisticated diabetes technology is highlighted by the fact that only 1 in 6 children in the UK are meeting their diabetes control targets.
The aim of the new research is to develop a robust set of algorithms that will be able to react to changes in blood glucose levels during and following sport. The research has important implications as it should greatly help insulin pump technology to appropriately react to unpredictable bursts of activity which is a particular feature of children’s behaviour.
Exercise is an important part of diabetes control and, when managed well, can improve blood glucose levels. However, it is not always so easy to correctly manage blood glucose levels during and following sport and hypoglycemia can be a particular problem which can occur during sport and up to 2 days after exercising.
Another important aim of the study will be to develop an artificial pancreas system that is as fault free as possible, to prevent false warnings or system failures.
The research collaboration will involve around 220 patients with type 1 diabetes and insulin pump users. Participants will be selected from Chicago and Toronto.

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