The wearable artificial pancreas uses two available diabetes devices - an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor.
Scientists have developed a wearable artificial pancreas which delivers insulin in an automated way and can effectively control blood sugar in children with type 1 diabetes.
Researchers from University of Virginia (UVA) in the US created the 'smart' artificial pancreas system which improves blood glucose, or blood sugar and controls better than the children's usual method of home diabetes management, an insulin pump.
The wearable artificial pancreas uses two available diabetes devices - an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor, which senses blood sugar levels on an ongoing basis.
Although these devices typically do not 'talk' to each other, the experimental system connects the devices using sophisticated computer algorithms, Mark DeBoer of UVA said. Researchers tested the artificial pancreas for about 68 hours in six boys and six girls with type 1 diabetes whose age ranged from 5 to 8.
They also tracked the children's blood sugar control using their usual home care regimen for 68 hours. All children normally used an insulin pump plus continuous glucose monitoring.
In comparing blood sugar levels, the researchers adjusted the levels for the amount of activity each child had. Researchers found that with the artificial pancreas, the children had a longer time in the target blood sugar range, which was 70 to 180 milligrammes (mg) per decilitre (dL): on average, 73 per cent of the time versus 47 per cent with their usual home care.
They also had far less time with high blood sugar levels (above 180 mg/dL): 25.8 per cent of the time compared with 51.5 per cent with usual home care. There was no increase in episodes of low blood sugar, with an average of only 3.3 low blood sugar episodes with the artificial pancreas and four such episodes with usual home care, researchers said.
"It can track the patient's blood sugar level and adjust the amount of insulin given to keep the blood sugar in a target range," DeBoer said.
"Up until now, parents and doctors have had to decide how much insulin to give young children throughout the day to avoid dangerously low or high blood sugars," he said.
"Even with an insulin pump, it can be difficult to know how much insulin the child requires because of fluctuations in the carbohydrate content in food and the child's activity level," DeBoer said.