Nationwide NHS trial of artificial pancreas developed in Cambridge

The NIHR Cambridge CRF has delivered over 30 separate studies in the last 15 years to support the development of an artificial pancreas, which is now being included in a nationwide type 1 diabetes trial in the NHS.

Hundreds of adults and children with type 1 diabetes in England have been fitted with an artificial pancreas in a world-first trial of this technology in the NHS. One of the devices in this trial has been developed by a team of Cambridge researchers, led by Professor Roman Hovorka from the Wellcome-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science at the University of Cambridge.

Artificial pancreas app insulin pump and glucose monitor

The CamAPS FX app on a smartphone is combined with a glucose monitor and insulin pump to act as an artificial pancreas, automatically adjusting the amount of insulin it delivers based on predicted or real-time glucose levels.

The NIHR Cambridge CRF has supported the development of this device every step of the way, delivering over 30 separate studies in the last 15 years. The CRF overnight capacity and flexibility of staff have been crucial to their success. For example, the first study was high-intensity, with blood samples being collected every 5 to 15 minutes, often requiring 3 nurses overnight. Blood glucose readings taken manually were inputted into the laptop program, from which an algorithm would give the required dosage to be manually set from the insulin pump. The study ran from 5pm to 8am, repeated within 3 weeks.

We have run studies with adults, including pregnant women, adolescents and children as young as 1 year old.

Professor Hovorka has said: “What a fantastic NIHR Cambridge CRF team we have had the pleasure to collaborate with over the last 15 years. A humble thank you for your continuing and unwavering support to progress research in type 1 diabetes.”

The results from this trial, along with other evidence, will be considered by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) when it looks at recommendations for rolling the device out more widely. We are very much looking forward to seeing the outcome of this.