Healthcare Experts Give Nod to DIY Artificial Pancreas System for Managing Type 1 Diabetes


There’s some good news for people suffering from Type 1 diabetes. More than 40 healthcare professionals and legal experts have for the first time issued guidance for using Do-It-Yourself (DIY) technology-driven systems to manage their condition. Traditional monitoring of Type 1 diabetes involves taking blood samples and calculating precise insulin dosages to maintain blood sugar levels. This can be stressful. The DIY technique, using an open-source Automated Insulin Delivery (AID) system, adjusts insulin dosing automatically using community-generated algorithms. What it means is that the DIY artificial pancreas systems can calculate the dosage and administer the dose automatically through conventional insulin pumps.

The regulators have approved just a limited number of commercial versions of these systems. But those supporting the DIY systems position them as “a product of citizen science”.

While these systems are not regulated, the landmark paper, published in the journal Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology and co-led by King’s and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, is the first validation of its kind that also offers clear recommendations of the use of these systems. The authors say more than 10,000 people have chosen the DIY technique to monitor their Type 1 diabetes.

The International Diabetes Federation and eight other professional diabetes organisations have endorsed the paper. Patients say using the technology has been a “revolution and a revelation” which has had positive impacts on their wider health, a report on the website of King’s College London said.

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone needed to allow sugar to enter cells to produce energy. The report said that at least 20 percent of DIY system users are children or adolescents. For many families and users, the use of this system allowed caregivers to monitor their condition remotely.

However, these innovations are not without risks, the authors warn. They recommend clinicians work with diabetic individuals or their caregivers to ensure safe and effective use of this system.

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