Wireless lifeline for people with diabetes

Life Sciences

  • Date 25 Jun 2013
  • Sectors Life Sciences

Cambridge Consultants is developing an application that will allow a continuous glucose meter (CGM) to autonomously communicate with a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth and then link to an insulin pump – creating an artificial pancreas that can be worn by people with type 1 diabetes at home without nurse supervision. The CGM will monitor the patient’s glucose levels every 1-5 minutes, with the information generated passed on to a connected smartphone or tablet that will calculate the amount of insulin the patient needs to keep their glucose at a steady level 24/7. The recommended dosage will then be automatically delivered to the patient via the pump worn under their clothing.

While a nurse-assisted system has previously been trialled in a hospital setting and home use of the system has already been established, the application being developed by Cambridge Consultants provides Dr Hovorka with the equipment needed to trial his new algorithm in a home environment over a longer time period.

Rob Milner, technical leader of the smart systems team at Cambridge Consultants, said: “There’s been a huge surge in health and fitness mobile apps in recent years and we’re now looking to take Dr Hovorka’s research to the next level. Our mission is to create technology that helps people with type 1 diabetes better manage the condition they have to live with every day. The real benefits will be in the improved health of people with the condition.”

Aaron Kowalski, vice-president of treatment therapies at the type 1 diabetes charity JDRF, said: “There is a pressing need for improved treatments for people with type 1 diabetes and we are proud to be funding Dr Hovorka’s important research trials, including the recent trial of the system involving children at home. The incidence of type 1 diabetes among children is increasing by at least four per cent year on year and the complications associated with the condition can be debilitating.

“An artificial pancreas may reduce complications such as heart and kidney disease, blindness and stroke but would also ease the burden of the condition carried by people with type 1 diabetes and their families every day. We see the damage caused by hyperglycemia and low blood glucose levels on a day-to-day basis, and artificial pancreas systems can’t come soon enough.”

Dr Alasdair Rankin, director of research for Diabetes UK, said: “Research into an artificial pancreas is at the cutting edge of diabetes research and has enormous potential to improve both the quality of life and also the health outcomes for people with type 1 diabetes.

“Managing blood glucose can be really difficult, and barely a quarter of people with type 1 diabetes are reaching the recommended levels. High blood glucose levels increase the risk of developing devastating health complications such as amputation and stroke, and this means Dr Hovorka’s work has the potential to make a big impact.”

Dr Hovorka’s in-home longer-time trial is due to start later this year.

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