Artificial pancreas study and the AP@home project
The EU-funded AP@home project (www.apathome.eu
) has developed a prototype wearable artificial pancreas that automatically regulates insulin delivery with the aim of reducing the treatment burden on patients with diabetes. Creating an artificial pancreas that would work day and night in non-clinical settings is the ultimate goal. As part of our commitment to improving the quality of life of people with diabetes, Profil joined the AP@home consortium in 2010. Since then, our expert scientists have worked with partners from Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, France, Austria, Italy and Switzerland to perform artificial pancreas study and move the project forward.
What an artificial pancreas would mean to patients
"The artificial pancreas we developed allows automated glucose control in patients with diabetes. It continuously monitors glucose levels in the body and it includes a software algorithm that calculates how much insulin should be delivered at any given time via an insulin infusion pump", says Professor Dr. Lutz Heinemann, co-founder of Profil and coordinator of the project."Automating the delivery of insulin would greatly improve treatment outcome since blood glucose levels are very much affected by many factors, such as diet, physical activity, illness and stress. That makes it difficult for patients to judge how much insulin they need. To take the burden of diabetes therapy of the shoulders of the patients will also greatly improve the quality of life of patients."
Artificial pancreas trials
One major activity of the AP@home project was to develop a platform that establishes communication between the device’s continuous glucose monitor (CGMs) and insulin pump. The model-predictive-control algorithms needed to calculate the appropriate infusion rates are a proprietary development of the partners of the project. In a large clinical artificial pancreas trial, two different algorithms were compared. As no differences were observed, it was decided to develop two different artificial pancreas platforms within the project. The algorithms and the other parts of the software can be run on a smart phone—this integration of everyday technology is an integral part of the project.At present, two different versions of the artificial pancreas platform are being evaluated in the home environment of patients in the framework of a clinical artificial pancreas study. The patients use the artificial pancreas system for up to three months at home without constant supervision of a physician to see how it functions in normal, everyday life.In parallel, an innovative artificial pancreas device developed as part of the AP@home project combines an insulin pump and glucose sensor in one device. Not only does that mean that patients have one less device to worry about, but it also reduces the number of access points through the skin to one. This novel system is currently under investigation in artificial pancreas trials, being used for a few days at a time rather than a few months.Artificial pancreas development from prototype to product will hopefully take place in the coming years in cooperation with a large manufacturer of medical devices. The artificial pancreas should simplify and optimize diabetes care and reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications. It is even expected to diminish healthcare costs in the long run.