NHS tests hybrid closed loop technology for type 1 diabetes

NHS England is testing the effectiveness of hybrid closed loop technology on 875 adults and children with type 1 diabetes.

NHS England has announced that diabetes centres around the country are piloting the revolutionary hybrid closed loop technology, which is also known as an ‘artificial pancreas.’ This innovative system continuously monitors blood glucose and automatically adjusts the amount of insulin given through a pump.

NHS experts are – in the first nationwide test of its kind – investigating whether hybrid closed loop technology can help people of all ages with diabetes control their condition safely and effectively, in a real-world setting.

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes causes the level of glucose in your blood to become too high and occurs when the body cannot produce enough of a hormone called insulin, which controls glucose levels in the blood. This type of diabetes can be treated. However, it can be costly and time-consuming; insulin injections and insulin pumps are traditional treatment methods that manage the condition.

NHS data indicates that three in five people living with type 1 diabetes have received a glucose monitoring device to help control their condition, through the NHS. It was announced in March 2022 that everyone living with this condition is eligible for a life-changing flash glucose monitor on the NHS.

Hybrid closed loop technology

Hybrid closed loop technology eliminates finger-prick tests and prevents life-threatening hypoglycaemic and hyperglycaemia attacks, which can result in seizures, comas, or even death for people living with type 1 diabetes.

Professor Partha Kar, NHS National Speciality Advisor for Diabetes, said: “Having machines monitor and deliver medication for diabetes patients sounds quite sci-fi like, but when you think of it, technology and machines are part and parcel of how we live our lives every day.

“A device picks up your glucose levels, sends the reading across to the delivery system – aka the pump – and then the system kicks in to assess how much insulin is needed.

“It is not very far away from the holy grail of a fully automated system, where people with type 1 diabetes can get on with their lives without worrying about glucose levels or medication”.

The physical benefits of Hybrid closed loop technology are life-changing. However, the system can alleviate some of the mental burden of having type 1 diabetes on the individual or their carers.

The NHS pilot scheme

The pilot scheme ran by NHS experts is designed to represent a wide mix of adults and children living with type 1 diabetes from all backgrounds, to ensure it considers the potential effectiveness of hybrid closed loop technology.

All the closed loop systems that are licensed for use within the UK are available to participants. Therefore, clinicians will consult with their patients or their carer on the best option for them and choose the hybrid closed loop system they require.

Chris Askew OBE, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, concluded: “This technology has the potential to transform the lives of people with type 1 diabetes, improving both their quality of life and clinical outcomes.

“The trial will generate real-world data, which will hopefully support the case for more people having access to this life-changing tech in the future. And while widening access to diabetes tech remains a priority for Diabetes UK, the NHS’ rollout of this scheme is a very significant and positive step in the right direction.

“We are proud of our legacy of artificial pancreas research and will continue to support NHS England as the pilot progresses”.

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