Artificial pancreas technology to be developed in US for pregnant women

Jack Woodfield
Fri, 25 Jan 2019
Artificial pancreas technology to be developed in US for pregnant women
Artificial pancreas technology is being taken to "the next level" as US researchers plan to develop it for pregnant women with type 1 diabetes, it has been announced.

Funding has been agreed to allow a US team to adapt the current device, ensuring it is safe and effective for mothers-to-be.

Women with type 1 diabetes have a higher risk of complications before and during birth, and it can be challenging to control blood sugar levels effectively throughout pregnancy. This is why making the artificial pancreas available could make a significant difference.

The project is collaboration between experts from the Harvard John A Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the Sansum Diabetes Research Institute.

The researchers have been awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop and evaluate a pregnancy-specific artificial pancreas to be tested in a series of clinical trials.

The aim of the study is to help women adapt to successfully managing their blood glucose levels at every stage of pregnancy using the artificial pancreas.

Artificial pancreas devices are designed to release insulin in response to changing blood glucose levels in a similar way to a human pancreas.

Within the UK, the University of Cambridge has had success in trials of an artificial pancreas in pregnant women with type 1 diabetes.

The researchers hope that this first US trial, which is currently enrolling pregnant women with type 1 diabetes and will follow their blood glucose outcomes throughout pregnancy and after birth, will lead to safe and effective results.

"This work will bring our previous advancements in artificial pancreas technology to the next level, and will be the first project of its kind in the United States," said Dr Eyal Dassau, Director of the Biomedical Systems Engineering Research Group at the Harvard John A Paulson School.

Dr Carol J Levy, Clinical Director of the Mount Sinai Diabetes Center, added: "Achieving and maintaining the very narrow range blood glucose levels required for the best fetal outcomes for pregnant women with type 1 diabetes is extremely challenging, even with optimal clinical care.

"The use of customised technology provides an important opportunity to improve patient and fetal outcomes. We are excited to be part of the team evaluating this important area of research designed to improve care and reduce patient burden."
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