• Monday, November 28, 2022


NHS: Nearly 900 patients with type 1 diabetes benefit from ‘artificial pancreas’

How an artificial pancreas looks like.

By: Pramod Thomas

AS MANY AS 875 patients with type 1 diabetes in England have been given an ‘artificial pancreas’ by the NHS as part of the first nationwide test into the effectiveness of this technology, according to a statement. 

The hybrid closed-loop system (HCL) – also known as an ‘artificial pancreas’ – continually monitors blood glucose and automatically adjusts the amount of insulin given through a pump.

According to the NHS, the technology can eliminate finger prick tests and prevent life-threatening hypoglycaemic and hyperglycaemia attacks, which can lead to seizures, coma or even death for people living with the condition.

Professor Partha Kar, NHS national speciality advisor for diabetes, said: “Having machines monitor and deliver medication for diabetes patients sounds quite sci-fi like, but when you think of it, technology and machines are part and parcel of how we live our lives every day.

A device picks up your glucose levels, sends the reading across to the delivery system – aka the pump – and then the system kicks in to assess how much insulin is needed.

It is not very far away from the holy grail of a fully automated system, where people with type 1 diabetes can get on with their lives without worrying about glucose levels or medication.”

Professor Partha Kar
Professor Partha Kar

Six-year-old Charlotte, from Lancashire, is one of more than 200 children using the hybrid closed loop system. Charlotte was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was five years old.

Charlotte’s mother, Ange Abbott-Pierce, said: “Before the HCL was fitted, my husband and I would be up every two hours every night having to check Charlotte’s blood sugars and most times giving insulin, sometimes doing finger pricks or dealing with ketones due to quick rises in blood sugar. This was really hard as we both work full time.

The HCL has given us tighter control as the CGM is monitoring Charlotte’s blood sugars and the pump is reacting before we even know there’s a problem. Hormones are a big factor at the moment, so interventions are still needed but this system is a god-send to us as we were at our wits’ end with worry, not being able to catch the highs before they got dangerous.

Data suggests that only a third of children with type 1 diabetes are currently able to achieve good control of their blood glucose level, which is needed to avoid serious consequences to their long-term health and quality of life.

According to the NHS, a five-year-old child diagnosed with type 1 diabetes faces up to 23,000 insulin injections and 52,000 finger prick blood tests by the time they are 18 years old.

I became aware of the emerging research into artificial pancreas, and fortunately for myself, my amazing diabetes team are part of the NHS pilot study. From here, I instantly contacted the team, and I was eligible to enrol. Since then, I haven’t looked back,” said Yasmin Hopkins, 27, from London, who also received an artificial pancreas.

The connection between the monitor and insulin pump means that I can enjoy my life, whilst limiting the highs and lows, changing my life for the better. This amazing innovative technology hasn’t just benefitted me, it has also benefitted my family and friends.

The diabetes centres participating in the pilot study will submit data via the NHS’s National Diabetes Audit, and the results will feed into the evidence assessment undertaken by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the statement added. NICE will make a recommendation about wider adoption within the NHS following a review of the evidence.

Chris Askew OBE, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: “This technology has the potential to transform the lives of people with type 1 diabetes, improving both their quality of life and clinical outcomes. The trial will generate real-world data which will hopefully support the case for more people having access to this life-changing tech in the future.”

Recently, NHS announced that everyone living with type 1 diabetes will be given flash glucose monitors. Around 175,000 patients with the condition have already received this device.

Eastern Eye

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