First, my apologies to followers or readers of We R the Cure — I’ve owed you a follow up to my experience wearing the actual Artificial Pancreas in a clinical trial at UVA since late March. Here is part 2.
Second, the headline of this post could have been written by thousands of Americans who are living with Type 1 diabetes and keeping ” Hope Alive ” that a solution like the AP is coming. Of course, solutions and “cures” have been promised by doctors, researchers, fundraisers and good-hearted volunteers for decades. I don’t believe in the tooth fairy either.
So rather than bore you with my prediction of when the AP will be built, approved and commercially available, I suggest you Google or Bing the topic and take a deep dive into the facts and the promises surrounding ” WHEN ?”
Here are some of the things I learned from my 24 hour period with Dr. Boris Kovatchev and his amazingly talented team of doctors, nurses, researchers and technology pioneers at the UVA Center of Diabetes Technology in Charlottesville, VA. Hopefully, you’ll see something here that gives you a dose of optimism for our future. A future filled with less daily stress and better diabetic health.
- Dr. Boris said he’s having ongoing talks with insulin pump companies, smartphone technology providers and other manufacturers. His message is: the AP worldwide consortium needs better high tech equipment — to get the AP prototype to the finish line faster. If the human clinical trials continue to meet and surpass expectations, there is an expectation that manufacturers will remain fully engaged.
- Attachments. I was wearing a 3 ring circus of “stuff” during my AP clinical trial: A) basic Tandem t:slim insulin pump, B) Two, yes 2, Dexcom 4 CGMs, and C) A Sony droid smartphone and CGM receiver with a “brain” — an algorithm designed to react to my blood sugar readings every 5 minutes and make adjustments if needed to keep my levels as close to ” a control or flat line” reading. Being a human pin cushion is the downside of participating in a diabetes human clinical trial. In the future, the technology must evolve so Type 1 Ds will feel more like ” IRON MAN ” — wearing the coolest technology — and less like ” FRANKENSTEIN” with bolts in my neck. Despite the tubing, monitors and fanny pack, I did not look like the patients who wore their insulin pump strapped to their back like a Jet Pack in the early days of diabetes research.
- Attachments, Part 2. The good news is : The smartphone and CGM technology is working and all happens via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Very Cool. Very Exciting. You can carry it with you and walk without an IV or extension cord when you go out for lunch and dinner. I felt kinda like a lab rat walking free. That is what the AP offers Type 1′s – a dose of freedom from diabetes management.
- The new power/hardware design appeared to work well in my trial. Next step for the UVA team: Repeat the software and hardware clinical trials performed at UVA at the University of California at Santa Barbara in May with 5 participants. If it works well there then the next step is to take the AP prototype to the consortium partners in France and Italy and repeat the same trials overseas.
- Gather the research evidence from all of the 2013 trials and present it to the FDA and others who are involved in the AP project. Report the findings and set up the 2014 human clinical trial test agenda: AP home trials. Yes, home trials with remote 24/7 monitoring of patients who are wearing the AP prototype as they go about their normal daily routines ” OUTSIDE ” of the research hospital settings.
- Finally, as I was wearing the AP for 24 hours — Dr. Boris and his research team was montoring my glucouse control from the hotel room adjoining my room, or from their UVA office on Main Street or — better yet — from their laptop while sitting in the Atlanta airport waiting for a flight back to Charlottesville. The device is capable of 24/7 remote monitoring access. Amazing.
I’ve got renewed hope and excitement about the AP. How long before we’re all able to wear one? I’m hoping for three to five years. It’s going to take
more time, brains, private sector investment and more research dollars to make this a reality. As many Type 1 Ds or Diabetes Online Community members have said before me: ” the solution is coming; it’s my job to keep myself in the best possible shape — to closely monitor and control my sugar levels — so I’ll be healthy enough to benefit from the AP when it arrives.”
It’s not a cure for diabetes. That’s still our goal. But, the AP ship is sailing on the horizon and is about to dock. I want to be ready when our ship finally comes in.