The European Commission (EC) has funded a £4.6m trial that will test whether an artificial pancreas can help young children manage type 1 diabetes.
A research team at the University of Cambridge (pictured) and Cambridge University Hospitals hope the trial will establish the artificial pancreas as a treatment capable of transforming type 1 diabetes management.
The project is a collaboration of Cambridge scientists and other institutes across Europe and the US, known as KidsAP.
The funding, commissioned under the EC’s Horizon 2020 programmen, will lead to the artificial pancreas being tested in a trial of 94 children with type 1 diabetes aged between 1-7 years.
The children will either be treated with the artificial pancreas or state-of-the-art insulin pump therapy for one year, with quality of life and treatment efficacy to be measured.
“If the artificial pancreas is shown to be more beneficial than insulin pump therapy, then we expect that it will change how type 1 diabetes is managed both nationally and internationally, with a much improved quality of life for young children,” said Professor David Dunger, collaborator on the project.
The artificial pancreas system is made up of three components: a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), a computer algorithm to calculate insulin doses, and an insulin pump. It is known as a closed-loop system and work externally on the body.
Last month, Cambridge researchers reported that the artificial pancreas could “transform treatment” for pregnant women with type 1 diabetes. But as yet, there has been no research into how the system could be used by young children at home.
“We’ve already seen that the artificial pancreas can have a very positive effect on people’s lives and now, thanks to funding from the European Commissio, we can see whether young children will also see these same benefits,” said lead author Dr Roman Hovorka, Department of Paediatrics at the University of Cambridge and Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
“At the moment, children have to have frequent insulin injections that are at best inconvenient, but at worst painful. We hope this new technology will eliminate this need.”

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