Improving diabetics’ quality of life

US grant to further Schneider and Minnesota researchers’ work on artificial pancreas.

A diabetes blood sugar test  (photo credit: REUTERS)
A diabetes blood sugar test
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva has received a prestigious, competitive $7 million grant for furthering its endocrinology and diabetes institute’s research into an artificial pancreas.
The research is being carried out with the International Diabetes Center in Minneapolis.
The money is being given by the US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, which is part of the US National Institutes of Health.
The MD Logic system is composed of an off-the-shelf subcutaneous Medtronic glucose sensor that monitors the glucose level, and an insulin pump. The sensor and pump are connected to a computer using an Israeli algorithm that programs the information and stipulates the amount of insulin that should be released to the body in order to maintain blood glucose balance.
This innovation “closes the loop” between the sensor and the pump and relieves the patients with diabetes from the constant task of monitoring their type-1 diabetes, and has the potential to significantly improve their quality of life.
The project is headed by Prof. Moshe Phillip, director of the institute, and Prof. Richard Bergenstal, a research clinician at the International Diabetes Center. It received a big boost in 2011 when a prospective cross-over study was conducted as part of a three-day camp outside Jerusalem for 18 children aged 12 to 15 who have diabetes. Nine were connected to the artificial pancreas system on the first night and eight children were connected on the second.
Monitoring night-time glucose levels was very important because most cases of severe hypoglycemia occur during the night, and blood glucose levels are not within the desired range in many of the patients while they are asleep.
The team of engineers and medical staff stayed in the control room set up at the hotel on both nights, from where they were able to supervise the trial by remote control and monitor the glucose levels of the children.
Within the framework of the camp, social activities with counselors enabled the children to enjoy many sports and entertainment facilities.
The grant will be used to test the system’s use in 100 diabetic teens and young adults aged 14 to 30 and to expand it to other centers around the world, including in the US, Germany, Slovenia and Israel. Not only will their insulin/sugar balance be studied but also how much the system improves their quality of life.