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First generation ‘Artificial pancreas’ brings hope for people with type 1 diabetes

First generation ‘Artificial pancreas’ brings hope for people with type 1 diabetes

Diabetes patient measuring glucose level in blood.

Researchers at The University of Melbourne, receiving funding support through the Australian Research Council (ARC) Special Research Initiative for Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes, are studying a new ‘artificial pancreas’ that could dramatically transform the lives of people with type 1 diabetes.

Leanne Foster, who has the condition, is the first Australian adult taking part in the study to use a hybrid closed-loop system to continuously monitor her blood glucose levels and automatically adjust delivery of insulin to keep her glucose levels stable in a healthy range. Patients at seven Australian hospitals will go about their lives for six months whilst attached to a small, mobile-phone sized insulin pump linked to a glucose sensor inserted into the fat just under the skin over the abdomen. The sensor sends glucose information back to their pump every five minutes, and the pump then calculates how much insulin to deliver.

Administered by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the study will evaluate the impact of the artificial pancreas over six months on patients’ glucose levels, quality of sleep and psychological well-being.

Project leader, Professor David O’Neal from The University of Melbourne Associate and St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, said the new device was a ‘game changer’ because it measured glucose levels so frequently and adjusted insulin delivery accordingly.

Previous studies focused on short term results had shown automated computerised insulin delivery resulted in better glucose control than conventional treatments. “While the new device does not represent a cure for diabetes, it does have the potential to very significantly improve control of glucose levels thereby reducing damage to the body resulting from glucose levels outside a healthy range, and also improve the quality of life of people with type 1 diabetes,” Professor O’Neal said.

The ARC may fund health and medical research, either in concert with the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) or directly, to address specific Australian Government health and medical research priorities, however, the ARC does not normally fund health and medical research through its competitive funding schemes. In 2014, the Australian Research Council (ARC) funded a new research initiative to support Type 1 Diabetes research through the ARC's Special Research Initiatives (SRI) scheme. The Australian Government has committed funding of $35 million over five years which is being administered by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Australia (JDRF).


Media issued by The University of Melbourne.

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