Insights from a BiAP insulin pump guinea pig

Susannah ElliottSusannah Elliott a 50 year old from London was diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic in 2007.  During her regular visits to the Diabetics Centre at Hammersmith Hospital she was invited by her consultant, Dr Nick Oliver, to take participate in clinical trials with his team – the Diabetes Technical Research Group – and their development of the first bio-inspired artificial pancreas.

The Bio-Inspired Artificial Pancreas (BiAP) is worn externally and combines a continuous glucose monitor that reads the user’s interstitial fluid sugar level with an insulin pump that infuses the insulin into the body.  The most innovative element is the biologically-inspired microchip which uses an algorithm to combine the two, enabling the research team at Imperial College and St Mary’s Hospital to replicate the activity of the beta cells of the pancreas using integrated circuits on a silicon microchip.  With this they have been able to deliver insulin profiles expected in a healthy pancreas –  life-changing technology for patients with type 1 diabetes.

Susannah, now five months into the trials, has had her blood sugar monitored using an algorithm to calculate what her insulin level should be.  Each procedure has been different by the amount of time spent testing certain conditions: day and night time tests, fasting, and post-meal tests.

The clinical trials have changed Susannah’s health and lifestyle.  As she has spent many hours with professionals working in this field, she feels has learnt a great deal from them.  Susannah has observed her own blood sugar overnight and had a chance to look and understand more about her condition and own individual needs.  Armed with this information, even though she finds her diabetes difficult to manage, she has been able to tweak her lifestyle – quite challenging while working full time.

Motivation is key for Susannah and since participating in these trials, this has increased.  Susannah feels excited about how this technology can improve the lives of people with diabetes and is continuing with the trials until the end of March.  She would be more than happy to take part in future tests with the Diabetes Technical Research Group.

Susannah comments, “In this economic climate, it’s very inspiring and uplifting to see such a dynamic team working in the NHS”.

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