World-leading advance in diabetes care at City University, London

Work on developing a prototype wearable ’artificial pancreas’ to improve care and lifestyle for diabetic people is showing “very encouraging results” at City University, London.

The European Commission-funded project mimics the way that insulin is naturally delivered in the body and could mean that people with Type 1 diabetes – often babies and young children – could have their blood glucose levels much closer to normal than is currently possible.

“We have been developing a technological solution to replace the actions of the pancreas by combining a glucose sensor, a physiological model, and an insulin pump,” said Dr Roman Hovorka. “So far the results are very encouraging and this could potentially become a product within five years.”

Dr Hovorka, of City`s Centre for Measurement and Information in Medicine (MIM Centre), is working on the three-year ADICOL (Advanced Infusion System using a Control Loop) project with academic and commercial partners from Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy and Denmark. The European project is believed to be further down the line in development than a possible US version.

Dr Hovorka and his colleagues have developed a computer model of diabetes, nicknamed `Bina`, which has been instrumental in anticipating the outcome of clinical trials and has accelerated the progress of the project. Next month sees the first 24-hour trial in an Austrian hospital. More than 20 volunteers in Austria and Italy have now taken part in the clinical trials since work began on the project in January 2000.

Some three to four per cent of the UK population is estimated to have diabetes and up to a million are believed to be undiagnosed with the condition. It is anticipated that about 20 per cent of the NHS budget in 2020 will be spent on care for people with diabetes.

A version of ’Bina’ will be on display and Dr Hovorka will be available at an Open Day for the MIM Centre as part of its showcase for recent developments in research and education in health-related subjects on Friday 10 May from 1100 to 1600. This will be held at Level 6, Refectory Building, City University, Northampton Square, London EC1V.

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