‘Artificial Pancreas’ Found to Outperform Traditional Insulin Pumps in Diabetes Management

A study recently published in The Lancet found that use of a hybrid “artificial pancreas” worked more efficiently than alternative blood sugar therapy for management of diabetes. This research was presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Berlin, Germany, funded by JDRF, and led by Dr. Roman Hovorka of the University of Cambridge.

Traditional sensor-augmented pump therapy uses an insulin pump coupled with continuous blood sugar monitoring sensors to give glucose readings to the user. With these systems, the wearer of the device is responsible for determining all insulin doses. The closed-loop insulin delivery system, or “artificial pancreas”, also makes use of the insulin pump and glucose sensor but integrates algorithm automated insulin delivery as well. These innovative devices couple this automated insulin delivery with manually initiated insulin dosages as well. The first hybrid closed-loop device was adopted in the clinical setting in 2017 after extensive research vouched for its safety.

Randomly assigning 44 men and 42 females between ages 6-65 with type 1 diabetes, this study compared efficacies of traditional sensor-augmented pump therapy and the newer hybrid closed-loop therapy. After 12 weeks of observations, the researchers found that the those in the closed-loop group showed a significantly higher proportion of time in optimal blood sugar range than those using traditional sensor-augmented pumps. Those in the closed-loop group were found to spend an average of 12 minutes less in the hypoglycemic range than their peers using alternative insulin devices.

“The use of day-and-night hybrid closed-loop insulin delivery improves glycaemic control while reducing the risk of hypoglycaemia in adults, adolescents and children with type 1 diabetes compared to conventional pump therapy or sensor-augmented pump therapy,” the authors write. “Results from our study together with those from previous studies support the adoption of closed-loop technology in clinical practice across all age groups.”

With these results, those with poorly managed type 1 diabetes can have greater confidence in using this simplified insulin pump. Taking a majority of insulin administration responsibility out of the user’s hands and allowing an algorithm to mediate dosages, this device could potentially serve as the future of diabetes management. In addition to the device’s simplified use, this study shows that the hybrid closed-loop pump may be a more effective means of glucose management than traditional technologies as well.

“Dr Hovorka’s study is significant in that it adds to the ever-growing body of evidence showing that closed-loop insulin delivery systems improve outcomes and reduce burden for people with type 1 diabetes,” said Daniel Finan, Research Director at JDRF. “In particular, this study demonstrates that people with diabetes who have sub-optimal control can benefit greatly from such technology.”

Sources: The Lancet, EurekAlert, MobiHealthNews

Jack holds a biology degree from Penn State University, and has a keen interest in how new medical technologies are changing the future of healthcare. Reach out to Jack if you have a compelling story idea or with feedback about past articles.