Keeping blood sugar in the normal range can sometimes seem impossible, and places an enormous burden on patients and families living with type 1 diabetes.  The amount of insulin needed at any given time is often unpredictable, causing dosage errors and dangerous swings in blood glucose levels.

An 'artificial pancreas' or closed-loop device can lift this burden and dramatically improve blood glucose control by automatically calculating and delivering the precise amount of insulin needed.  

Closed-loop devices consist of a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) connected to an insulin pump. The CGM feeds real-time information about changing blood glucose levels into a special mathematical formula which calculates the precise amount of insulin required, and instructs the insulin pump to deliver this amount.  

Professor Tim Jones from the University of Western Australia and Associate Professor David O’Neal from the University of Melbourne are evaluating the use of closed-loop devices in real-life for people with type 1 diabetes,  to see if they safely and effectively improve blood glucose control and quality of life.

Professor Jones will be looking at closed-loop devices in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes.  His research team will conduct clinical trials focusing on closed-loop benefits for young people in different situations such as those who are affected by hypoglycaemia unawareness or who are struggling with difficult-to-control blood glucose levels. 

Associate Professor O’Neal and his collaborators will be conducting similar studies in adults with type 1 diabetes, looking at the ability of closed-loop systems to improve blood glucose control and hypoglycaemia unawareness, and to reduce markers of long-term complications.

Importantly, Professor Jones and Associate Professor O’Neal will be testing whether closed-loop systems actually improve the lives of people with type 1 diabetes. They will measure sleep quality, cognitive function, mental health and the overall well-being of trial participants.

These studies will help to make the artificial pancreas a reality. A safe and effective artificial pancreas will be a game-changer for treating type 1 diabetes, lifting the burden of managing this condition from patients and their families. 

More information about the project will be released when available.

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