New insulin pump technology


continued over



team of researchers

has been undertaking

pioneering work into

the development of an

artificial pancreas for the

treatment Type 1 diabetes.

Diabetologist Dr Nick Oliver has

been leading the work of the Diabetes

Technology Research Group at Imperial

College London at St Mary's Hospital.

The researchers are part of a global effort

to develop artificial pancreas technology.

At present the are the only group in the

world using a 'bio-inspired' approach -

mimicking the physiology of the human


The Bio-Inspired Artificial Pancreas

(BiAP) is worn externally and combines a

continuous glucose monitor that reads the

user's interstitial fluid sugar level. It also has

an insulin pump that infuses the insulin into

the body. The most innovative element is

the biologically-inspired microchip which

uses an algorithm to combine the CGM

data with the pump's capacity to infuse

insulin. This has enabled the research team

to replicate the activity of the beta cells of

the pancreas using integrated circuits on a

silicon microchip. With this they have been

able to "deliver insulin profiles expected in a

healthy pancreas".

Human trials

The technology has been validated using

a patient simulator and now twenty people

with Type 1 diabetes aged between 18

and 75 are taking part in the first human

clinical trials. These are underway at

Imperial College London at St Mary's

Hospital, where the artificial pancreas

has now been used for over 500 hours of

diabetes control.

If the patient trials are successful,

the team hopes that the technology will

become available to the 400,000-or-so

people in the UK with Type 1 diabetes.

The Cities of London and Westminster

MP Mark Field visited Imperial College

London and St Mary's Hospital in late

January. He has commented, "This

technology has the potential to bring

huge benefits to thousands of patients

by preventing their glucose levels from

fluctuating above and below normal

levels, eliminating the need for constant

counting and guesswork, and helping

them lead a normal life. It also offers

enormous potential to save the National

Health Service money and improve

efficiency. I very much enjoyed witnessing

this exciting development first hand and

look forward to hearing more as the trials


Field trials

Mr Field has given his backing to a pledge

to improve patient access to medical

technology. The pledge is being organised

by the Medical Technology Group

(MTG), a coalition of patient groups,

research charities and medical device

manufacturers, which is committed to

increasing patient access to high quality,

life-improving technologies to all who

need it.

Barbara Harpham, Chair of the MTG,

said, "The NHS currently spends around

£1 billion on treating the complications

of Type 1 diabetes. It is estimated that

the use of artificial pancreas technology

could save around 80% of that cost, while

transforming the lives of people living with


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