In the next trial, the researchers hope to deliver at least some of the insulin prior to a meal, which is the standard treatment. Damiano said this may be accomplished with a pre-meal button, and the user could just choose whether they were having a small-, medium- or large-carbohydrate meal.
The next set of trials will also test a device that includes insulin only, because it would likely be available faster. The reason is that glucagon is currently only FDA-approved in a freeze-dried form as an injectable rescue medication. It's not FDA-approved yet for delivering through an insulin pump in tiny doses, as it would be in an artificial pancreas. Both Damiano and Russell think it could be possible to have an insulin-only closed-loop system available for use by patients within five years or so.
"The goal of an artificial pancreas is to try to restore normal physiology as closely as possible, and this study demonstrates that this technology is real, and it's good in real people," said Aaron Kowalski, assistant vice president for glucose control research and research director of the Artificial Pancreas Project for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). "We've talked for many years about the theoretical potential of a closed-loop system, and now we see the real potential. These technologies are going to be built into real systems and will have the potential to transform the management of diabetes."
Results of the study were published in the April 14 issue of Science Translational Medicine.
Learn more about the artificial pancreas from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Association.
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