A LIFE-CHANGING Android app has been created to manage insulin delivery in very young children affected by Type 1 diabetes. The app, CamAPS FX, was developed by Roman Hovorka from the Wellcome-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science (ISM), University of Cambridge, UK, and acts as an artificial pancreas for children aged 1 or older by using an algorithm to automatically adjust insulin delivery based on real-time glucose levels. Hovorka explained: “CamAPS FX makes predictions about what it thinks is likely to happen next based on past experience. It learns how much insulin the child needs per day and how this changes at different times of the day. It then uses this to adjust insulin levels to help achieve ideal blood sugar levels. Other than at mealtimes, it is fully automated, so parents do not need to continually monitor their child’s blood sugar levels.” This treatment approach, described as a hybrid-closed loop system, promises to tackle many of the challenges of traditional sensor-augmented pump therapy, which requires the child’s guardians to continuously monitor glucose levels to adjust the insulin dose to deliver.
This system has now been tested on a cohort of 74 children aged 1–7 from paediatric diabetes centres in the UK, Luxembourg, Austria, and Germany. The trial involved children using the CamAPS FX app for 16 weeks, followed by a control treatment with sensor-augmented pump therapy for 16 weeks. The study found that the app was not only safe to use but also that with this novel treatment blood sugar levels were in the target-range for almost three quarters of the day (71.6%), around 9 percentage points higher than the control group. Children using the app also spent less than 22.9% of their time with elevated blood sugar, lowering their risk of developing diabetes-related complications. Commenting on the importance of these findings, the study’s first author Julia Ware, Wellcome-MRC IMS, University of Cambridge, UK, explained: “Parents have described our artificial pancreas as ‘life-changing’ as it meant they were able to relax and spend less time worrying about their child’s blood sugar levels, particularly at night-time. They tell us it gives them more time to do what any ‘normal’ family can do, to play and do fun things with their children.”