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Am J Ther. 2019 Sep 19. doi: 10.1097/MJT.0000000000001086. [Epub ahead of print]

Automated Insulin Delivery: The Artificial Pancreas Technical Challenges.

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Bioengineering and Telemedicine Group, Centro de Tecnología Biomédica (CTB), Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Madrid, Spain.
Networking Research Center on Bioengineering, Biomaterials and Nanomedicine (CIBER-BBN), Madrid, Spain.



The automation of glucose control has been an important goal of diabetes treatment for many decades. The first artificial pancreas experiences were in-hospital, closely supervised, small-scale, and short-term studies that demonstrated their superiority over continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion therapy. At present, long-term outpatient studies are being conducted in free-living scenarios.


The integration of multiple devices increases patients' burden and the probability of technical risks. Control algorithms must be robust to manage disturbance variables, such as physical exercise, meal composition, stress, illness, and circadian variations in insulin sensitivity. Extra layers of safety could be achieved through remote supervision. Dual-hormone systems reduce the incidence and duration of hypoglycemia, but the availability of stable pumpable glucagon needs to be solved. Faster insulin analogues are expected to improve all types of artificial pancreas.


Artificial pancreas safety and feasibility are being demonstrated in outpatient studies. Artificial pancreas use increases the time of sensor-measured glucose in near-normoglycemia and reduces the risk of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia. The benefits are observed both in single- and dual-hormone algorithms and in full- or semi-closed loop control. A recent meta-analysis including 41 randomized controlled trials showed that artificial pancreas use achieves a reduction of time in hyperglycemia (2 hours less than control treatment) and in hypoglycemia (20 minutes less); mean levels of continuous glucose sensor fell by 8.6 mg/dL over 24 hours and by 14.6 mg/dL overnight. The OpenAPS community uses Do It Yourself artificial pancreas in the real world since 2013, and a recent retrospective cross-over study (n = 20) compared continuous glucose sensor readings before and after initiation: mean levels of blood glucose fell by 7.4 mg/dL over 24 hours and time in range increased from 75.8% to 82.2% (92 minutes more).


The outpatient use of artificial pancreas is safe and improves glucose control in outpatients with type 1 diabetes compared with the use of any type of insulin-based treatment. The availability of open-source solutions and data sharing is needed to foster the development of new artificial pancreas approaches and to promote the wide use of Big Data tools for knowledge discovery, decision support, and personalization.

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