T1D promises to invest millions to build on artificial pancreas tech

MiniMed 670G
MiniMed 670G System--Courtesy of Medtronic

Medtronic’s world-first FDA-approved hybrid closed-loop insulin delivery system might soon face competition, as T1D Exchange has pledged to invest in the development of a more advanced version for people with Type 1 diabetes.

The nonprofit organization has announced that it will make a multimillion-dollar investment in automated insulin delivery technologies, with financial help from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. However, it did not disclose the exact amount of the funding or how it will distribute the investment, or whether it’s through direct investment or services support.

Medtronic’s “artificial pancreas” is hot off the assembly line, approved just last month. Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, at that time praised the device as a “first-of-its-kind technology” that “can provide people with Type 1 diabetes greater freedom to live their lives without having to consistently and manually monitor baseline glucose levels and administer insulin.”

Though Medtronic’s current MiniMed 670G insulin pump has significantly cut back on the continuous vigilance needed to manage the disease as well as the device by running an algorithm to standardize the patient’s insulin infusion pattern--especially helpful during the night when the patient is not active--it is not 100% automatic. The patient still needs to manually request bolus insulin about 10 minutes before meals. Medtronic’s current system also requires human confirmation before it delivers the dose.

As Medtronic plans to launch the new system next spring, T1D Exchange intends to ultimately take a step further and remove the patient from the equation and let the system do the job on its own.

Also, as Stanford University professor of pediatric endocrinology Dr. Bruce Buckingham told FierceMedicalDevices in a previous story, instead of letting patients set a higher target glucose range before exercising, future technology could include accelerometers and other gadgets to manage these events and free patients from making the decisions.

Part of Unitio, Boston, MA-based T1D Exchange has been at the forefront of fighting diabetes by offering researchers access to its vast data-sharing network of clinical, biological, patient-reported outcomes and electronic health record data. It's also supporting advanced diabetes treatments through the $150,000 Diabetes Innovation Challenge with M2D2, a JV between the University of Massachusetts Lowell and Worcester campuses that incubates medical device startups.

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