Type-1 diabetes is a chronic, life-threatening condition that has a life-long impact on those diagnosed with it and their families. As of now, people with type 1 diabetes depend on a routine of finger-prick blood tests and insulin infusions or implantations to remain alive, because their pancreas no longer produces insulin itself.
To alleviate the ever-present burden of type 1 diabetes and improve health outcomes, professor Roman Hovorka at the University of Cambridge and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has developed the world’s first licensed, downloadable artificial pancreas app for people with type 1 diabetes. The app dubbed as CamAPS FX works with an insulin pump and a glucose monitor to automatically deliver insulin to people.
The app uploads the user’s blood glucose measurements seamlessly to Diasend, an online platform, allowing their diabetes team to provide more personalized care.
Professor Hovorka said: “This is a significant stepping stone towards providing widely available, clinically proven, and user-friendly artificial pancreas technology to people with type 1 diabetes.”
This app is the result of 13 years of hard work by Professor Hovorka and his research group at the Wellcome-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science. It is licensed for use by both adults and children with the condition and is the first artificial pancreas system to be licensed for use in pregnancy, or by young children aged one and above.
Karen Addington, UK Chief Executive of JDRF, said: “JDRF is proud to have supported Professor Hovorka’s artificial pancreas research from the beginning, nearly 15 years ago. This app is a major innovation and a significant milestone on the road to a fully automated and interoperable artificial pancreas. There’s still more work to do, but this is an exciting step.”
Fiona O’Reilly, who has been using the app as part of a clinical trial, said: “Overall, it makes me feel free. It is the closest I have been to live without the burden of type 1 diabetes since I was diagnosed, which is a fabulous feeling. In essence, I feel less fearful of hypoglycemia and less ashamed of the fact that I find achieving reasonable glycaemic control so tricky.
“And it makes me feel more positive about my future with diabetes, that I have a chance of avoiding all the associated complications. It also makes me feel lucky to live in a time where this technology is possible and grateful to be given a chance to try it out.”
At launch, the app will be supported by a small number of UK diabetes clinics. People who wish to use the app will need to confirm which clinic they attend and must be using a Dana RS pump and a Dexcom G6 continuous glucose monitor.
Professor Hovorka and his research team will work to continue to bring this technology to all who need it, via the NHS. Key to this will be the generation of data to support the case for NHS provision.