New Closed Loop Artificial Pancreas System Learns from Patient Behavior

New Closed Loop Artificial Pancreas System Learns from Patient Behavior

A closed loop artificial pancreas system is one in which blood sugar levels are monitored and the delivery of insulin is triggered automatically when blood sugar levels spike – mimicking the function of the pancreas in healthy individuals.

The insulin pumps are activated when blood sugar rises past a preset level, or the pumps can be activated when a patient consumes a meal. One problem with these systems is the reaction to changes in blood sugar levels results in a delay in achieving the optimal insulin levels in the bloodstream. That delay can be up to 2 hours.

While these closed loop artificial pancreas systems have been shown to be effective at regulating blood insulin levels, and make it possible for patients with Type 1 diabetes to live relatively normal lives without the need to constantly monitor their blood sugar levels, scientists have been trying to develop a closed loop artificial pancreas system that eliminates, or greatly reduces the delay.

Now a team of scientists at Harvard University have developed a new closed loop artificial pancreas system that results in much more efficient insulin delivery. The trick is not just to monitor blood sugar levels and react to spikes, but to predict when those spikes will occur by learning from patient behavior. In addition to a blood glucose monitoring patch that is worn on the skin with an accompanying insulin pump, the new closed loop artificial pancreas system is linked to the patient’s smartphone via Bluetooth.

A model-predictive control algorithm is used to maintain blood insulin levels within a broad, healthy range. The system responds to changes in blood sugar as with currently used artificial pancreas systems; however, the new system can learn from a patient’s behavior and respond to activities such as sleep, the patient’s metabolism, and their level of physical activity.

The new system is therefore able to anticipate blood sugar spikes and deliver insulin accordingly, reducing the delay in achieving an optimal blood insulin level.

The new system has been used in a trial on 30 patients with type 1 diabetes and has shown highly promising results, yielding significant reductions in HbA1c and hypoglycemia.

The study – 12-Week 24/7 Ambulatory Artificial Pancreas with Weekly Adaptation of Insulin Delivery Settings: Effect on Hemoglobin A1c and Hypoglycemia – has recently been published in the journal, Diabetes Care.

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