Artificial Pancreas Can Prevent Dangerously Low Blood Sugar in People with Type 1 Diabetes

New system reduces the risk of exercise-related hypoglycemia

A new artificial pancreas system can prevent hypoglycemia—episodes of dangerously low blood sugar—during and after heavy exercise in people with type 1 diabetes, according to a small study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Despite advances in treatment, blood sugar control in type 1 diabetes remains challenging. The artificial pancreas has the potential to automate much of the continuous work people with type 1 diabetes do to control their blood glucose levels, but exercise-related hypoglycemia is a major obstacle.

“Our new artificial pancreas system with a coordinated eating carbohydrate recommendation is both safe and effective in avoiding hypoglycemia and maintaining blood sugar control during and after heavy physical exercise in people with type 1 diabetes,” says the study’s corresponding author, Marga Giménez, MD, PhD, of the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain. “Although exercise provides many health benefits, it has unpredictable effects on blood sugar control, making it difficult for people with type 1 diabetes to exercise daily. The artificial pancreas is emerging as the most promising treatment for managing type 1 diabetes, but exercise-related hypoglycemia remains a challenge.”

The researchers tested their new artificial pancreas system on 10 adults with type 1 diabetes during an in-hospital clinical trial, measuring their blood sugar during and three hours after exercise. They found that the artificial pancreas system performed well and was safe during and after heavy exercise in people with type 1 diabetes in comparison with standard therapy.

Other authors include Clara Viñals of the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona; Aleix Beneyto of the University of Girona in Girona, Spain; Juan-Fernando Martín-SanJosé and Clara Furió-Novejarque of the Universitat Politècnica de València in València, Spain; Arthur Bertachi of the Federal University of Technology – Paraná (UTFPR) in Guarapuava, Brazil; Jorge Bondia of the Universitat Politècnica de València and the Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Diabetes y Enfermedades Metabólicas Asociadas (CIBERDEM) in Madrid, Spain; Josep Vehi of the University of Girona and CIBERDEM; and Ignacio Conget  and Marga Giménez of the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, CIBERDEM and the Institut d’investigacions biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer.

The study received funding from the Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades, the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico, the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona and the Departament d’Universitats, Recerca i Societat de la Informació.

The manuscript, “Artificial Pancreas with Carbohydrate Suggestion Performance for Unannounced and Announced Exercise in Type 1 Diabetes,” was published online, ahead of print.