Dr Roman Hovorka is working on a five-and-a-half-year project to generate a first-generation artificial pancreas prototype and evaluate its ability to improve blood glucose control at home and reduce the risk of overnight hypos in adults with Type 1 diabetes.
In 2014, Dr Hovorka’s team published results from a study of 24 adults with Type 1 diabetes who used the artificial pancreas overnight in their homes for four weeks without medical supervision. People using the system spent 13.5 per cent more time with their glucose levels in the ideal range, compared to people using the current gold-standard insulin therapy. They also had lower average overnight blood glucose levels without increasing the time they spent with their blood glucose level falling too low.
Lisa shares her experience of taking part in this pioneering research to trial an artificial pancreas.
Lisa, right with Dr Hovorka
"I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when I was 11. I use an insulin pump thatI have been on for just over two years. I was approached to take part inthe artificial pancreas research and was fitted with a continuous glucose sensor. The sensor reads your glucose levels and transmitsthe information wirelessly to a mobile device that contains acontrol algorithm, which automatically tells an insulin pumphow much insulin to release.
At night the ‘artificial pancreas’ worked perfectly. However sometimes during theday, with the complication of different levels of activity, it was not as effective. During the research period I trialled this ‘closed-loop’ system (where the computer does everything) for three months, and an ‘open-loop’ system (whereI had to manually adjust my insulin levels) for three months. I was supported really well during the research by Dr Hood Thabit and Sarah Hartnell at the University of Cambridge.
Research into the treatment and cause of Type 1 diabetes is vital and advances in recent years have made a real difference topeople’s lives. Advances are being made and tested all the time and each one makes life a bit easier for people like me who are living with diabetes."