Novel artificial pancreas proves effective in type 2 diabetes treatment

And it can be implemented safely at home.
Nergis Firtina

Researchers from Cambridge University have tested an artificial pancreas that can be used by people with type 2 diabetes successfully.

The device, powered by a Cambridge University algorithm, reduced the time patients spent with high blood sugar levels by half and increased the amount of time they spent in the glucose target range.

According to the release, high blood sugar levels are a complication of type 2 diabetes. Usually, the release of insulin regulates blood sugar levels, but type 2 diabetes interferes with insulin synthesis. This can eventually lead to major issues like heart disease and kidney, nerve, and eye damage.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge's Wellcome-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science have created an artificial pancreas that can aid in preserving normal glucose levels. 

The system combines an insulin pump and glucose monitor from the store with an app created by the team called CamAPS HX. An algorithm that controls this software forecasts the amount of insulin needed to keep blood sugar levels within the desired range.

Novel artificial pancreas proves effective in type 2 diabetes treatment
Artificial pancreas.

The researchers have previously demonstrated that individuals with type 1 diabetes, ranging from adults to very young children, can benefit from an artificial pancreas controlled by a similar algorithm. They have also tested the gadget successfully on type 2 diabetics who need renal dialysis.

Published in Nature Medicine on January 11, the group reports the results of the device's initial study in a larger population of people with type 2 diabetes. This new version of the artificial pancreas for type 1 diabetes is a fully closed loop system, as opposed to the artificial pancreas used for type 1 diabetes, which requires the user to alert the device when they are going to eat so that it may alter their insulin, for example.

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26 patients were recruited

The researchers recruited 26 patients from the Wolfson Diabetes and Endocrine Clinic at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

The researchers evaluated the artificial pancreas's performance using various metrics. The first was the percentage of time patients' blood sugar levels were within the desired range of 3.9 to 10.0 mmol/L. On average, patients utilizing the artificial pancreas spent 66 percent of their time inside the desired range, compared to 32 percent for patients receiving the control.

The amount of time spent with blood glucose levels above 10.0 mmol/L was a secondary indicator. Chronically high glucose levels increase the chance of potentially life-threatening consequences. Two-thirds (67 percent) of the time that patients receiving the control medication had high blood sugar levels; however, this number was cut in half to 33 percent when an artificial pancreas was used.

“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,” said Dr. Charlotte Boughton from the Wellcome-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science at the University of Cambridge, who co-led the study.