Spotlight on Research

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Eight years ago, JDRF created the Artificial Pancreas Project, and through the generosity of our supporters, we have been able to invest more than $98 million to fund artificial pancreas (AP) research and development. Today, this project is spurring innovation and bringing us closer to our goal of creating AP systems that automatically measure blood-glucose levels and seamlessly deliver the appropriate amount of insulin and other blood-sugar-regulating hormones, allowing individuals with T1D to maintain healthy glucose levels throughout the day and night with little to no involvement in monitoring and dosing activities. Among other benefits, AP systems will help eliminate the life-threatening hypoglycemic (low-blood sugar) and hyperglycemic (high-blood sugar) episodes that people with T1D can experience even when their disease is well managed. Several JDRF-funded research projects are pushing towards the creation of fully automated AP systems.

pLGS SYSTEMS ON THE HORIZON

Predictive-low-glucose-suspend software systems are budding first-generation AP technologies that aim to significantly reduce low-blood-sugar episodes. The integrated continuous glucose monitor (CGM)/insulin pump systems will feature pLGS software that predicts when a user’s glucose will become too low and then signals the pump to automatically reduce or turnoff insulin delivery before low blood sugar can occur.

Stanford University researcher Bruce Buckingham, M.D., and his team have conducted a series of studies testing overnight accuracy of a pLGS software they are developing for potential use in AP systems. The most recent study—a JDRF-funded randomized home-based trial that tracked 45 T1D patients aged 15 to 45 who were fitted with the researcher’s novel software—was published in the May 7 online issue of Diabetes Care. For the study, each participant was connected to the system for 42 nights, and investigators randomly activated and deactivated the pLGS software so that the subjects spent 21 nights with the intervention turned on and 21 nights with it turned off. Participants didn’t know on any given night whether the software was functioning. Investigators found that hypoglycemic episodes that lasted 30 to 60 minutes were reduced by roughly half, and episodes lasting 180 minutes or more were reduced by 81 percent on nights when the software was active compared to nights when it was inactive.

The study adds to a growing body of research showing that pLGS-enabled systems used during sleep are safe and effective, and the findings help bring people with T1D closer to having fully integrated AP systems that offer 24-hour protection against life-threatening hypoglycemic episodes. The researchers are now evaluating pLGS when used in 3 to 6 year olds with T1D. Making these systems available for use by children not only improves the short-and long-term health of the youngest individuals with T1D, it also allows their families to sleep without fear of the disease’s potentially deadly consequences.

To learn about other promising research projects being funded by JDRF, visit jdrf.org/research.