David O'Neal headshot
Original Published Date: 
Friday, November 13, 2020

Full article issued by JDRF.

Results from an ARC-supported clinical trial have shown some big benefits for people with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) from the use of hybrid closed-loop technology, which acts like an artificial pancreas, continuously monitoring blood glucose and delivering insulin when it’s needed. The results come from a trial led by Professor David O’Neal from The University of Melbourne and the Australian JDRF Closed-Loop Research Group. This study has been funded by the ARC through the JDRF's Type 1 Diabetes Clinical Research Network (T1DCRN) since 2016.

Hybrid closed-loop systems automate basal insulin delivery, but still require user input for a bolus insulin – a dose taken to manage blood glucose levels following a meal. A total of 120 adults took part in the clinical trial, representing a wide range of ages (25 to 70 years old) and stages of T1D (1 to 59 years since diagnosis).

After 26 weeks, 'time-in-range', a parameter for measuring the time spent with target or near-target blood glucose levels, increased by 15 percentage points from 55% to 70% in the group using the hybrid closed-loop system, compared to a control group that was using standard methods for insulin delivery. The hybrid closed-loop group also experienced less time in high and low glucose ranges, and lower average blood glucose levels than the control group.

Importantly, hybrid closed-loop users scored better on measures of diabetes-specific positive wellbeing and quality of life, compared with the control group. There was no difference in sleep quality, treatment satisfaction or memory function between the groups.

While pleased with the results, researchers caution that hybrid closed-loop technology is still new, and more studies like this are needed to refine its benefits. The researchers note that a longer study allowing people to become more familiar with the technology could see further improvements in treatment satisfaction or wellbeing. 

Additionally, there are many factors that influence how a person with T1D manages their insulin and blood glucose. The researchers point out the need for hybrid closed-loop systems to continue evolving to address concerns outside of glucose control like comfort, ease of use and financial considerations.

Photo credit: 

David O'Neal. Credit: JDRF.