FDA approves the first artificial pancreas system


Artificial Pancreas

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The first artificial pancreas system is here. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week approved Medtronic’s MiniMed 670G hybrid closed looped system — a device designed to automatically monitor glucose (sugar) and provide appropriate basal insulin doses in people 14 years of age and older with Type 1 diabetes.

The MiniMed 670G hybrid closed looped system, or artificial pancreas, is intended to adjust insulin levels with little or no input from the user. It works by measuring glucose levels every five minutes and automatically administering or withholding insulin.

The system includes:

  • A sensor that attaches to the body to measure glucose levels under the skin
  • An insulin pump strapped to the body
  • An infusion patch connected to the pump with a catheter that delivers insulin.

While the device automatically adjusts insulin levels, users need to manually request insulin doses to counter carbohydrate (meal) consumption.

According to the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 5% of people with diabetes have Type 1. Type 1 diabetes is typically diagnosed in children and young adults. Because the pancreas does not make insulin in people with Type 1 diabetes, patients have to consistently monitor their glucose levels throughout the day and have insulin therapy through injection with a syringe, an insulin pen or insulin pump to avoid becoming hyperglycemic (high glucose levels). In addition, management of Type 1 diabetes includes following a healthy eating plan and physical activity.

The FDA evaluated data from a clinical trial of the MiniMed 670G hybrid closed looped system that included 123 participants with Type 1 diabetes. The clinical trial included an initial two-week period where the system’s hybrid closed loop was not used followed by a three-month study during which trial participants used the system’s hybrid closed loop feature as frequently as possible. This clinical trial showed that the device is safe for use in people 14 years of age and older with Type 1 diabetes. No serious adverse events, diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) or severe hypoglycemia (low glucose levels) were reported during the study.

Risks associated with use of the system may include hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, as well as skin irritation or redness around the device’s infusion patch. This version of the device is unsafe for use in children 6 years of age or younger and in patients who require less than eight units of insulin per day.

As part of this approval, the FDA is requiring a post-market study to better understand how the device performs in real-world settings. While the device has been approved for use in people 14 years of age and older with Type 1 diabetes, Medtronic is currently performing clinical studies to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the device in diabetic children 7-13 years old.

The MiniMed 670G hybrid closed looped system is manufactured by Medtronic, headquartered in Dublin, Ireland.