Overnight closed-loop insulin delivery – which acts like an artificial pancreas and delivers insulin doses automatically – has proved to be safe and effective at controlling blood glucose levels in adolescents with type 1 diabetes, researchers recently found.
While the insulin pump and continuous glucose monitoring systems that are currently available on the market are considered open loop – they measure blood glucose levels in the fluid surrounding cells and the user adjusts insulin doses accordingly – closed-loop systems act more like an artificial pancreas because they adjust the insulin doses automatically based on the blood glucose readings.
While the closed-loop systems are considered revolutionary on the diabetes front, the biggest concerns about the systems is that the blood glucose readings may not be entirely accurate, resulting in insulin doses that lead to episodes of either hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia, which would be especially dangerous at night.
In this latest study, conducted for more than a year by a team of researchers from the United Kingdom and the United States – researchers evaluated the use of closed-loop systems by 16 adolescents aged 12 to 18 with type 1 who use an insulin pump. The systems were used over a three-week period for at least four hours per night, and were augmented by sensors to collect data during the three weeks that followed, for 78 weeks.
According to the results, blood glucose that remained in targeted levels rose by 15 percent through the use of the closed-loop system, and also improved during the day, researchers said.
“Unsupervised home use of overnight closed loop in adolescents with type 1 diabetes is safe and feasible. Glucose control was improved during the day and night with fewer episodes of nocturnal hypoglycemia,” the authors concluded.
The results suggest that the artificial pancreas – which would automate insulin delivery – could be feasible within the next few years, researchers said in an interview with Endocrine Today.
“The artificial pancreas is likely to become an important treatment option in the next decade,” said Dr. Roman Hovorka, Ph.D., of the Wellcome Trust-Medical Research Council Institute of Metabolic Science at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.
The study appeared in the journal Diabetes Care.