An insulin pump-based artificial pancreas has been launched for use in the United Kingdom to treat patients with type 1 diabetes.
How does the device work?
The Medtronic MiniMed 640G detects when blood sugar levels are falling and stops insulin from being produced. It is designed to closely mimic the way insulin is delivered to the body by a healthy pancreas.
The MiniMed 640g is an insulin pump in itself, but develops the properties of an artificial pancreas when used with continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) sensors.
The device attaches to the body using a number of tubes that are inserted under the skin. An algorithm to predict hypoglycemia is then run by a tiny computer inside the device.
With the majority of hypoglycemic attacks reported to occur during sleep, a primary reason the MiniMed 640G has been credited is for preventing overnight hypos,
The first person fitted with this artificial pancreas was an Australian boy in January, but from this week, British patients with diabetes will now able to purchase it.
How much will the MiniMed 640g cost?
The MiniMed 640G will reportedly cost private patients £7,000 annually, taking into account the costs of infusion sets and CGM sensors through the year.
However, patients who suffer frequent severe hypoglycemia will be able to apply for eligibility to receive the system through NHS funding.
Routine funding is not expected to be considered until further trials on the device have been carried out. Some hospitals, however, are offering the pump to patients with severe hypoglycemia.
Between 20 and 30 patients are using the new pump at King’s College London, according to Dr Pratik Choudhary, Senior Lecturer and Consultant in Diabetes.
“This new MiniMed 640G system represents another important step forward towards an artificial pancreas. Our early experience is that patients love it for the peace of mind and safety it gives them overnight due to its ability to protect them against hypoglycemia,” Choudhary said.