Scientists at the University of Cambridge have launched what they describe as the world’s first licensed, downloadable artificial pancreas smartphone app for sufferers of type 1 diabetes. The culmination of 13 years of research, the software helps in the safe administering of insulin and is hoped to greatly reduce the burden of managing the disease.
People with type 1 diabetes need to keep an almost-constant eye on their blood glucose levels and then administer insulin to keep them in check, because their pancreas no longer produces the hormone itself. This involves regular finger-prick blood tests and insulin injections, but lately we are seeing some promising technologies that could handle much of the workload.
These are known as artificial pancreases, and are built to handle the testing of blood glucose levels and the administration of insulin all at the same time. These systems could take various forms, whether it involves a needle beneath the skin to monitor blood glucose and automatically release insulin as required, or implantable microcapsules that do much the same thing.
The CamAPS FX app developed by the Cambridge researchers doesn’t offer quite the same type of closed-loop system, in that it requires a certain type of insulin pump (a Dana RS) and glucose monitor (a Dexcom G6) to work. These components work with a complex algorithm built into the app to automatically deliver insulin to type 1 diabetics as needed.
To start out, the app will be available to Android users who attend a small number of diabetes clinics in the UK, though the researchers behind it hope that it will one day be available to all type 1 diabetics and work with a range of pumps and glucose monitors.