Diabetes examine furthers work on ‘synthetic pancreas’


The Medtronic MiniMed Advanced Hybrid Closed Loop System (AHCL).

Another step towards an “artificial pancreas” to improve the health of people with type 1 diabetes is the focus of a new study by the University of Otago.

The study, led by Dr. Martin de Bock (University of Otago, Christchurch) and Associate Professor Ben Wheeler (Otago Medical School – Dunedin Campus), builds on their recently published research using the latest commercial artificial pancreatic technology using an insulin pump one was combined with a glucose sensor.

Dr.  Martin de Bock

Dr. Martin de Bock.

The Medtronic MiniMed Advanced Hybrid Closed-Loop (AHCL) system couples these devices and then uses an algorithm in the pump that decides how much insulin to deliver.

Those who use the system enter information about when and what to eat, but the system can also independently increase or decrease insulin to help stabilize glucose levels.

“It’s the beginning of an artificial pancreas, but it’s a hybrid artificial pancreas because patients still need help,” explains Associate Professor Wheeler.

The first study carried out by Dr. de Bock and published in Diabetes Care concluded that AHCL showed a significant improvement in glucose control compared to other methods.

However, the research was limited by the relatively short duration that patients only used the devices for a month.

Associate Professor Ben Wheeler.

Associate Professor Ben Wheeler.

The new study, which will involve a group of 65 people aged 7 to 80, will run for seven months at sites in Dunedin and Christchurch.

Working with Medtronic would give patients access to the latest technology, while Medtronic would benefit from Otago’s expertise in conducting clinical trials, says Associate Professor Wheeler.

“We hope to prove that patients are much healthier and that this new system will take some of the burden off them. It’s the Holy Grail – that not only are you healthier, but you also have to do less. “

At the same time, a sleep study funded by the Otago Medical Research Foundation, entitled “Closes the cycle?”

“We know that high levels of glucose and levels that are everywhere affect your sleep, so the question is, ‘Can we improve your sleep by normalizing it?’

This study is currently being carried out with the support of Dr. Alisa Boucsein, Research Associate at the Department of Women’s and Child Health (Dunedin).

Lottery health research funding has also been secured for a similar study targeting teenagers struggling with type 1 diabetes but not using technology.

Probably in the middle of the year it will be a question of “seeing whether we can transfer it directly to the technology”.

“These teenagers aren’t giving themselves enough insulin, so let’s see if the machines can help make up for this.”

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