A new app is being developed which aims to improve the user experience of a closed-loop artificial pancreas for people of different ages and capabilities.

The app project, funded by type 1 diabetes charity JDRF, could improve accessibility for a wider range of people with diabetes, including older or younger people who may benefit from a tailored user experience.

A team from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Connecticut, USA is working on developing designs and interfaces to make closed-loop systems easier to understand and use.

In addition, the team is developing algorithms to help mimic the way a healthy biologic pancreas works.

The first stage of development will see the team investigate the visual set-up, how to alert the user and the overall user experience.

The researchers are working with focus groups being run by the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes in Colorado, USA.

Wayne Bequette, professor of chemical and biological engineering at Rensselaer, said: “The question is: ‘How are you going to present a device to them that’s very easy to use and will still regulate blood glucose levels‘? One outcome might be that we need flexibility for having a couple of different interfaces.

“We have to think about what the objectives are in controlling blood glucose and that’s going to be different for the older population.”

One of the concerns that existed with insulin treatment in older people are the risks of hypoglycemia and falls.

The next stage will see the team test the app in clinical trials which will include older people with diabetes.

Professor Bequette said: “If you can have this self-sustaining, closed-loop technology, then the caregiver is not having to constantly say, ‘Did you check your blood glucose today? Did you change your insulin pump?’

“A large percentage of the population right now is not even on insulin pumps, so therefore, caregivers are having to do quite a bit with the older population.”

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