Washington, Oct 25 : An international team of researchers is testing an artificial pancreas- computerized, subcutaneous system-hoping that it may one day revolutionise how Type 1 diabetics manage their disease.
University of Virginia researchers associated with the project have revealed that the team have already completed the first of several international artificial pancreas clinical trials to test an individually-"prescribed" control algorithm, which regulates blood glucose levels in Type 1 diabetics.
The University is one of seven centres around the world to perform the novel closed-loop computer simulation of the human metabolic system.
The researchers say that they have successfully tested the new system on five patients at the UVA Health System, since late June.
Three more patients have participated in a parallel study at the University of Padova, Italy.
"Our initial results are very encouraging. The system entirely maintained the patients' blood glucose levels, and the algorithm achieved excellent overnight control without any incidence of hypoglycemia," said Boris Kovatchev, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and neurobehavioral sciences and systems and information engineering who is leading UVA's research team.
Kovatchev was one of the scientists who developed the system's novel algorithm, which allows for personalized treatment for each patient.
The patients just have to link their glucose monitors with their insulin pumps, and the "smart" program will automatically regulate the amount of insulin according to the patients' needs.
The investigators got the FDA approval, relying only on in silico computer simulation experiments, to test the artificial pancreas in humans, without any prior in vivo animal trials.
Such a rare distinction by the FDA cut research development time from several years to six months.
"This artificial pancreas could one day greatly improve the current methods of self treatment for Type 1 diabetes. Instead of a patient having to measure his or her blood sugar with a glucose meter several times a day and self-administer insulin injections, this system would continuously regulate the patient's blood glucose, much like the way a non-diabetic's pancreas functions," said Kovatchev.