Artificial pancreas protects young children from type 1 diabetes

January 24, 2022
Artificial pancreas protects young children from type 1 diabetes

The development of an “artificial pancreas” by researchers from the University of Cambridge (Cambridge), UK, has proven helpful especially very young children suffering from type 1 diabetes. Results from an artificial pancreas technology trial with Cambridge’s CamAPS FX smartphone app – the world’s first licensed, downloadable artificial pancreas smartphone app for type 1 diabetes – showed remarkable “life-changing” results in young diabetes sufferers.

Type 1 diabetes management is particularly problematic in young children due to irregular eating and activity, along with high variability in the amount of insulin they require – the CamAPS FX artificial pancreas system and smartphone app were designed to suit these needs.

“CamAPS FX makes predictions about what it thinks is likely to happen next based on past experience,” said Professor Roman Hovorka, from the Wellcome-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science, Cambridge. “It learns how much insulin the child needs per day and how this changes at different times of the day. It then uses this to adjust insulin levels to help achieve ideal blood sugar levels. Other than at mealtimes, it is fully automated, so parents do not need to continually monitor their child’s blood sugar levels.”

The trial involved 74 children with type 1 diabetes, aged one to seven, with all subjects using the CamAPS FX artificial pancreas system for 16 weeks. Each child’s glucose levels was then monitored using current technology called sensor-augmented pump therapy and manually adjusted for insulin delivery via a pump, also for 16 weeks. This allowed the researchers to compare the performance of the two.

When using the CamAPS FX app, the children spent 71.6% of their day in the target range for glucose levels, around nine percentage points, or 125 additional minutes, higher than the control. They also spent 22.9% of the time with raised blood sugar levels, nine percentage points lower than the control, and exhibited lower average blood sugar levels, reducing their risk of diabetes-related complications.

According to Dr. Julia Ware, also from the Wellcome-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science, Cambridge, young children are extremely vulnerable to changes in their blood sugar levels and may in turn face lasting consequences to their brain development.

“On top of that, diabetes is very challenging to manage in this age group, creating a huge burden for families. CamAPS FX led to improvements in several measures, including hyperglycemia and average blood sugar levels, without increasing the risk of hypos. This is likely to have important benefits for those children who use it,” added Dr. Ware.

The CamAPS FX technology is currently available through certain hospital trusts in the UK only.

Read: Early education on cardiovascular heath ensures lifelong changes in children

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Category: Education, Features

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