Researchers at Harvard have successfully trialed an artificial pancreas system that uses a smartphone to automatically deliver appropriate levels of insulin to the patient. The closed-loop system (commonly referred to as “artificial pancreas”) consists of an insulin pump and a glucose monitor placed under the user’s skin. The advanced control algorithm embedded in a Bluetooth-connected smartphone then signals how much insulin the pump should deliver based on criteria like physical activity, meals consumed, sleep, stress and metabolism.
As researchers noted, the adaptive control algorithm system used in the trial is based on model-predictive control (MPC). So, rather than regulating glucose levels to a specific point, it defines an acceptable zone for an individual’s glucose levels and controls variables to stay within that range.
The trial results were promising. During more than 60,000 hours of combined use of simulated pancreas, participants in a 12-week, multi-site clinical trial showed significant improvements. They also showed reduced level of hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) and less time spent in hypoglycaemia.
The results have been published in the journal Diabetes Care.