Computer simulated system key to artificial pancreas development

By Molly Merrill
11:00 AM

Researchers have successfully created a computer simulated system for evaluating an investigational artificial pancreas.

This is a key step for replicating the insulin-producing function of the pancreas for patients with Type 1 diabetes, say researchers from the University of California at Santa Barbara, Sansum Diabetes Research Institute and Stanford Medical Center.

The computer simulated system is comprised of the OmniPod Insulin Management System and the OmniPod insulin pump and Personal Diabetes Manager from the Bedford, Mass.-based Insulet Corporation, as well as a continuous glucose monitor, the FreeStyle Navigator from Abbott Park, Ill.-based Abbott Laboratories and the DexCom STS7 from San Diego-based DexCom.

The system also includes an algorithm that automates the interaction between the pump and monitor and facilitates the running of a variety of tests and challenges to the software and component devices.

"While we still have a ways to go, this new system brings us much closer to making the artificial pancreas a reality for Type 1 diabetes patients," said lead author Eyal Dassau, PhD, the diabetes team Research manager at UCSB.

"This achievement is vital – we now have a way, prior to patient trials, to fully verify and validate that an artificial pancreas can efficiently operate in the variety of conditions reflective of a large group of patients with this disease," Dassau said.

The research is part of the artificial pancreas project, which is funded by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and is being conducted by an international group of diabetes research centers. The project's first goal is to integrate an insulin pump and continuous blood glucose monitor to closely replicate a healthy pancreas for patients with Type 1 diabetes – patients whose pancreases no longer produce insulin, which is used by the body to control blood glucose levels. An artificial pancreas will allow for tighter and automated control of blood glucose levels, which would significantly help to avoid the long-term complications of the disease, researchers say.

"This new system will really help streamline the preclinical trials. It will provide data central to the regulatory review process," said investigator Howard Zisser, MD, director of clinical research and diabetes technology at the Sansum Diabetes Research Institute in Santa Barbara, Calif. "We plan to begin using it in the next several months."