The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the Sansum Diabetes Research Institute and the College of Engineering at UCSB are pleased to announce the first successful clinical research trial using the artificial pancreas in conjunction with ultra-rapid-acting inhaled insulin.
This represents a groundbreaking potential advancement in the treatment of type 1 diabetes (T1D). It establishes that the disease can be managed through a unified automated process that delivers precise amounts of insulin around the clock, based on real-time glucose measurements without the need for patient intervention, and is further enhanced and fine-tuned by the swift delivery of ultra-rapid-acting inhaled insulin during mealtimes.
The artificial pancreas and inhaled insulin system work together to replicate the normal, healthy function of the human pancreas. This combination therapy has the ability to greatly improve the regulation of prandial and postprandial blood glucose levels. This research is funded by JDRF, the world’s largest non-profit supporter of T1D research.
Sansum Diabetes is the only site testing ultra-rapid-acting inhaled insulin in combination with the artificial pancreas.
Principal investigator Howard Zisser, M.D., director of research and technology at Sansum Diabetes, acknowledged that “This study addresses one of the big questions in diabetes research, which is, ‘How do we manage meals with the artificial pancreas?’”
He went on to point out, “The JDRF, Sansum Diabetes, and UCSB consortium has spent the past five years developing several approaches to an artificial pancreas to automate insulin delivery for patients with type 1 diabetes to improve glucose control throughout the day and overnight. JDRF recognizes that we can use technology to help improve the lives of people with type 1 diabetes until there is a cure.”
As for this innovative study, Dr. Zisser stated: “Our preliminary results on the artificial pancreas working in tandem with the administration of mealtime ultra-fast-acting inhaled insulin are most promising. It's very straightforward to load the inhaler device and take the insulin. There's no needle involved and the small dose of inhaled insulin prevents the blood glucose from uprising very quickly just after eating or falling too fast an hour or two later. In this way, the subcutaneous insulin being supplied by the artificial pancreas’ pump has the chance to actually work better.”
Co-principal investigator Francis Doyle, III, professor of chemical engineering, Mellichamp chair in process control, and associate dean of research at UCSB explained: “The subcutaneous route of delivery is a very slow way to push insulin into the body, compared to the appearance of glucose in the blood stream following the meal. So we need a much quicker way to intervene.
"One way to do that is to dose with the pump, but again, you’re using a subcutaneous route of pushing insulin, which is slow compared to the way the pancreas would do this. So, by using inhaled, ultra- rapid-acting insulin, we have a chance now to manage blood glucose even better by emulating a more natural pancreatic function. We can get the insulin quickly into circulation and it will be cleared quickly and safely from the bloodstream.”
Aaron Kowalski, Ph.D., vice president of treatment therapies at JDRF, remarked that, “The early results of this exciting study are compelling. While more data are required, this protocol represents a potentially revolutionary way of combining the artificial pancreas with a simple-to-use inhaled insulin to significantly improve blood sugar levels. We are excited that Sansum Diabetes and UCSB researchers are working together with us and continuing to push the frontiers of diabetes research forward to benefit the quality of life for people living with the disease.”
— Sarah Ettman-Sterner is the director of communications for the Sansum Diabetes Research Institute.