People with type 2 diabetes who used an artificial pancreas as part of a trial saw an increase in the amount of time their glucose levels stayed in target range.

Scientists from the University of Cambridge said the study participants “spent very little time” with blood sugar levels lower than the target levels while using the artificial pancreas.

They reported that it doubled the amount of time participants spent in target range for their glucose levels compared to traditional treatment. The use of the artificial pancreas also slashed in half the time spent experiencing high glucose levels.

The device comprises a glucose monitor and insulin pump along with an app developed by the Cambridge team.

The app uses an algorithm that forecasts the amount of insulin needed to maintain optimum glucose levels.

In comparison to the artificial pancreas used for type 1 diabetes, this version is a fully closed loop system.

Dr Charlotte Boughton, from the Wellcome-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science at the University of Cambridge, co-led the study and said: “Many people with type 2 diabetes struggle to manage their blood sugar levels using the currently available treatments, such as insulin injections. The artificial pancreas can provide a safe and effective approach to help them, and the technology is simple to use and can be implemented safely at home.”

Her colleague Dr Aideen Daly, from the Wellcome-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science, said: “One of the barriers to widespread use of insulin therapy has been concern over the risk of severe ‘hypos’ – dangerously low blood sugar levels. But we found that no patients on our trial experienced these and patients spent very little time with blood sugar levels lower than the target levels.”

The 26 participants were split into two groups, with the first group using the artificial pancreas for two months before switching to daily insulin injections. The second group did the same but in reverse.

Researchers found that on average, the artificial pancreas helped participants to spend around 66% of their time in target range for their glucose levels. The figure for the control group was 32%.

The team, which was supported by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre, is planning to carry out a larger-scale study.

Read more in the journal Nature Medicine.

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