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Artificial pancreas to control blood sugar levels in type 1 diabetes coming

Thursday, January 14, 2010, 13:42 This news item was posted in medical devices category and has 0 Comments so far.

Artificial pancreas, a fully automated system to dispense insulin to patients based on real-time changes in blood sugar levels, is currently under development.

Artificial pancreas will help people with type 1 diabetes better control their disease, according to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) is in partnership with Animas Corporation to develop artificial pancreas.

Animas, a Johnson & Johnson company, is a leading manufacturer and distributor of insulin delivery and glucose management systems. JDRF is a global leader in research leading to better treatments and cures for type 1 diabetes.

The objectives of the partnership, a major industry initiative within the JDRF Artificial Pancreas Project, are to develop an automated system to manage diabetes, conduct extensive clinical trials for safety and efficacy, and submit the product to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval.

“If successful, the development of this first-generation system would begin the process of automating how people with diabetes manage their blood sugar,” said Alan Lewis, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of JDRF.

An artificial pancreas will deliver insulin as needed, minute-by-minute, throughout the day to maintain blood sugars within a target range.  But even this early system could bring dramatic changes in the quality of life for the 3 million people in the U.S. with type 1 diabetes, beginning to free kids and adults from testing, calculating and treating themselves throughout the day, he said.

JDRF will provide $8 million in funding over the next three years for this project, with a target of having a first-generation system ready for regulatory review within the next four or so years.

What is an Artificial Pancreas?

An artificial pancreas will integrate two currently available technologies — continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps — with an algorithm that provides the right amount of insulin at the right time.

An artificial pancreas will enable people with diabetes to achieve tight blood glucose control avoiding both highs and dangerous lows, thereby significantly reducing the risk of the disease’s devastating complications.

The first-generation artificial pancreas system would be partially automated, utilizing an insulin pump connected wirelessly with a continuous glucose monitor (CGM).

The CGM continuously reads glucose levels through a sensor with a hair-thin sensor wire inserted just below the skin, typically on the abdomen.

The sensor would transmit those readings to the insulin pump, which delivers insulin through a small tube or patch on the body.  The pump would house a sophisticated computer program that will address safety concerns during the day and night, by helping prevent hypoglycemia and extreme hyperglycemia.  It would slow or stop insulin delivery if it detected blood sugar was going too low and would increase insulin delivery if blood sugar was too high.

For example, the system would automatically discontinue insulin delivery to help prevent hypoglycemia, and then automatically resume insulin delivery based on a specific time interval (i.e., 2 hours) and/or glucose concentration.

Artificial pancreas will also automatically increase insulin delivery to reduce the amount of time spent in the hyperglycemic range and return to a pre-set basal rate once glucose concentrations have returned to acceptable levels.

In this early version of an automated diabetes management system, the patient would still need to manually instruct the pump to deliver insulin at times, (i.e. around meals).  But this “hypoglycemia-hyperglycemia minimizer” system would represent a significant step forward in diabetes management, and could provide immediate benefits in terms of blood sugar control, by minimizing dangerous highs and lows, the release said.

DexCom, Inc., a leading manufacturer of CGM devices, will supply the CGM technology for the system to be developed by JDRF and Animas.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks and kills off the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, a hormone that enables people to convert food into energy.  It affects children, adolescents, and adults.

To manage their disease, people with type 1 diabetes need to measure their blood sugar multiple times throughout the day (typically by pricking a finger for a drop of blood), and inject themselves with insulin multiple times daily or use an insulin pump to keep blood sugar within a healthy range.  That daily routine continues for life, because insulin does not cure diabetes.

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) is the largest charitable funder and the leader in research into a cure for type 1 diabetes.

The JDRF-Animas partnership will build upon the progress made since 2006 in the JDRF-funded Artificial Pancreas Consortium, a group of university-based mathematicians, engineers, and diabetes experts that has developed the computer programs needed for an artificial pancreas, and established their scientific feasibility.

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