'Artificial pancreas' for kids with type-1 diabetes
London: Scientists in Cambridge have made a significant step towards developing a so-called "artificial pancreas" system for managing type-1 diabetes in children.
The team has developed and successfully tested a new algorithm, providing a stepping stone to home testing for the artificial pancreas.
The new study, funded by Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), shows that using an artificial pancreas system overnight can significantly reduce the risk of hypoglycemia, when blood glucose levels drop dangerously low, while sleeping.
An artificial pancreas system combines a continuous glucose monitor and an insulin pump, both already on the market, and uses a sophisticated algorithm to calculate the appropriate amount of insulin to deliver based on the real-time glucose readings.
As well as eliminating the need for multiple daily finger prick tests and insulin injections, artificial pancreas should offer better control of blood glucose levels overnight.
In the new study, children and teenagers aged between five and 18 with type-1 diabetes were studied during 54 nights in hospital.
The study included nights when the children went to bed after eating a large evening meal or having done early evening exercise.
Both are challenging to manage, a large evening meal because it can lead to so-called "insulin stacking" and, as a result, a potentially dangerous drop in blood glucose levels later in the night.
The pooled results showed the artificial pancreas kept blood glucose levels in the normal range for 60 percent of the time, says a Cambridge release.