We R the Cure

Seeking Cures and Cheating Destiny


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UVA Artificial Pancreas Team Receives $3.4 Million Grant; Technology Aims To Transform The Lives Of Type 1 Diabetics

A high-tech project at the Center for Diabetes Technology at UVa to turn an ordinary smart phone into an artificial pancreas that could transform the lives of people with type 1 diabetes has received a $3.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

The Center For Diabetes Technology Team at UVA

The Center for Diabetes Technology Team at UVA is part of a worldwide Artificial Pancreas Consortium working to bring a safe and high-tech Closed Loop System to Americans with Type 1 diabetes in the next few years!

The money will fund a new network approach to artificial pancreas design using distributed computing between local and Cloud systems that will allow real-time adjustment of insulin delivery based on the individual’s needs. The grant will also fund three clinical trials at the University of Virginia and at Stanford University that will advance the project toward its final goal of offering people with type 1 diabetes – in which the body does not produce enough insulin – an automated way to monitor and regulate their blood sugar.

“This project approaches the artificial pancreas not as a single device but as a network of local and global services working seamlessly together towards the optimal control of diabetes,” said Boris Kovatchev, PhD, of the University of Virginia School of Medicine and the Center for Diabetes Technology.

The artificial pancreas was developed at the School of Medicine by a team of researchers led by Kovatchev, the director of the UVA Center for Diabetes Technology, and Patrick Keith-Hynes, PhD. The device consists of a reconfigured smart phone running advanced algorithms, linked wirelessly with a blood glucose monitor and an insulin pump, and communicating with Internet services in real time.

The system’s developers intend for it to monitor and regulate blood-sugar levels automatically, report to a remote-monitoring site and link the user with assistance via telemedicine as needed. This would save users from having to stick their fingers to check their glucose levels multiple times a day and eliminate the need for countless syringes to inject insulin manually. The physicians on the team – Bruce Buckingham, MD, of Stanford, and UVA’s Stacey Anderson, MD, and Sue Brown, MD – have tested the artificial pancreas system in successful outpatient trials in Virginia, California and in Europe.

University of Virginia Press Release


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Clinical Trial At UVA Marches On: Giving My Blood, Time And Type 1 Diabetes For Artificial Pancreas Research

Writing a blog about living with Type 1 diabetes and promoting the need for clinical trials — is not exactly front-page cybernews. It’s OK to admit that I’m blogging for a very limited audience: Me, myself and I. We R the Cure is dedicated to finding solutions, sharing current research news, and spotlighting the need for more persons with Type 1 diabetes to participate in clinical trials.

I’m not seeking publicity or the spotlight. Participating in these studies does, however, sometimes make me feel like Steve Martin’s character in the 1984 movie, ” The Lonely Guy.” Am I the only guy doing this?

Last Thursday at dawn, I traveled to Charlottesville for my in-patient “Metabolic Challenge” hospital admission on Day 17 of the ” Behavioral Mechanisms of Glucose Variability” clinical trial at the Center for Diabetes Technology at UVA. The good news: I completed the study parameters by providing my blood to the researchers as they raised my glucose level above 250 mg/dl and then lowered it below 60 mg/dl to see how the human body responds to glucose swings. “Greater understanding of insulin sensitivity, particularly how the body counters a low blood sugar,” will help researchers and technology experts determine how to refine the math calculations or ” brain power ” needed for the Artificial Pancreas system, according to the UVa team.

So, let me give you the Top 5 newsworthy or ” BIG PICTURE” results from my in-patient day.

Number 5: I did not wear the new DexCom 5 CGM prototype for the admission as originally planned. The manufacturer was not ready to release it for human trial just yet. The next generation DexCom 5 sensor will transmit its glucose readings directly to the AP’s SmartPhone and not to CGM transmitter. This is a key step in closing the loop on the closed-loop AP.

Number 4: The DexCom 5 should be available for testing in upcoming AP clinical trials, hopefully as soon as Feb. 2014. If the DexCom 5 is tested in trials then it sets up the important next step: Setting up “AP home trials” for out patient clinical trials in 2014-2015. A final step on the pathway to FDA approval.

Number 3: To be a clinical trial participant, it helps if you don’t mind having up to 2 IV catheters plugged into your arms. And, you need to ” enjoy ” having blood drawn every 5 minutes during the critical ” high” and ” low ” period of the variability study.

Number 2: It was rewarding to spend a beautiful fall day “inside” at the old UVA Hospital — with the awesome team of researchers, doctors, nurses and clinical trial coordinators. These folks are first-class and extremely talented. A sincere “Thank you” to Dr. Anderson, all of the nurses and staff at the Clinical Research Unit, and the CDT team (Laura, Mary and Molly).  And they served me a fabulous Salmon lunch when I was done!

Number 1: My blood data, CGM readings and insulin pump trend lines will be reviewed and the numbers will be crunched by the CDT team at UVA. I am contributing to a larger, multi-layered, worldwide consortium effort designed to bring the first-ever Artificial Pancreas to the commercial market — and thereby providing better health outcomes and an improved quality of life for the 3 million Americans living with Type 1 diabetes. Laura Kollar, clinical research coordinator and RN with CDT team, added this wrap up to my visit: “Just wanted to thank you (and your amazing blood) for the admission yesterday. You done good!”

It may not be newsworthy, but it’s a worthwhile contribution. Call it a legacy. Together, We R the Cure.

Here are some ” BIG PICTURES” of my day in my hometown, Charlottesville.

Mike Anderson at UVA Rotunda

The Clinical Trial is done at about 4 pm and I can enjoy a beautiful fall afternoon and a Starbucks coffee in Charlottesville, my hometown.

Keeping Record of Highs and Lows.

Keeping track of the blood glucose ” highs and lows” during my Clinical Trial at UVA.

Glucose Variability

My blood samples are lined up at UVA Hospital during Clinical Trial on November 7. It looks like a lot but the total volume taken is about the same or less than a normal blood donation.

Artificial Pancreas Clinical Trial

Automated blood machines are used to analyze and report on my blood glucose levels and other key metabolic factors during my in-patient admission.


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The “Highs and Lows” Of Type 1 Diabetes Clinical Trials: Some Days You’re the Windshield; Some Days You’re The Bug

LauraRNMike2

Laura Kollar, right, Clinical Research Coordinator and Nurse Manager at UVA, spent her Saturday morning guiding the health screening for trial participants at Barringer Wing. Thanks Laura!

As I ponder the current ” Ups and Downs” of my participation in a new Type 1 Diabetes Clinical Trial at UVA, two quotes come to mind. One comes from a famous figure in American history; The other comes from my father, a UVA alum known for his wit and wisdom throughout the Anderson clan in Virginia.

“Do not put off till tomorrow what can be put off till day-after-tomorrow just as well.” — Mark Twain

“Growing old ain’t for Sissies.” — Howard Anderson

I think both are fitting words for the inconvenience, effort and the amazing satisfaction that comes from giving your own blood, sweat, and sometimes a few tears to help researchers move us all one step closer to finding a ” Cure ” or high tech solutions that will improve the quality of life for persons living with T1D.  Last month I joined a new clinical trial at UVA’s Center for Diabetes Technology — my sixth trial since August 2010 — titled “Biobehavioral Mechanisms of Glucose Variability.”

Trial participants will track their insulin sensitivity results over about one month and travel to Charlottesville for an in-patient stay at UVA Hospital to measure,  through continuous blood analysis, how a person responds or counters a high and a low blood sugar. A greater understanding of these issues will help researchers, doctors and digital technology leaders finish key parts of the Artificial Pancreas project — a closed-loop insulin pump technology designed to better control glucose levels in T1 diabetics and reduce the serious medical complications of diabetes.

BarringerWingUVA

On a Saturday morning in October, I waited outside Barringer Wing at the old UVA Hospital complex for my health screening to start. It is always a very emotional and cool feeling for me to be back at Barringer — I’m walking the halls where my mother and father were on the day of my birth back in 1961.

Participating in a clinical trial is a volunteer labor of love. No one forces you to sign up. ( Attention: We need more people to sign up for clinical trials all over the world!! ). You are able to step out of a trial at any point. The truth is: it’s amazing to participate in cutting-edge medical technology like the AP and I’m hoping to benefit from the results of the research — automated glucose management that leads to better long-term health and less complications.

In a snapshot, here are the highlights of the first 3 weeks of my study. The BIG EVENT happens this week — when I complete my 12-hour in-patient stay at UVA hospital with the CDT medical team.

  • Week 1: Go to Lab Corp and get pre-trial blood work done and results shipped to UVA; Travel to Cville for health screen with medical team; Attach trial DexCom 4 Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM); Go shopping at grocery store for pre-planned meals — breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack with exact carb, protein and fat grams — to be used for my 4 Insulin Sensitivity days; Do  “Twice” the number of normal finger sticks in order to record BG data in my trial meter and my own insulin pump meter — Ouch!
  • Week 2: Eat 2 tasty pre-packaged meals and record the exact food nutrition information on the spreadsheet provided by Stacey Anderson, MD — who is no relation to the Anderson clan but a cool coincidence that we share the same last name; Discover that the DexCom CGM sensor applicator — does not always work and actually draws blood from my abdomen site; Keep doing the finger sticks — 9 to 10 times a day for two meters and for calibration of the CGM — Ouch!
  • Week 3:  Get day off from work approved; Discover that the ” hidden gem ” of the trial study is NOT going to happen yet — wearing the DexCom5 CGM prototype in addition to the DexCom 4 CGM; The DexCom 5 is being manufactured specifically to work directly with the Artificial Pancreas SmartPhone — delivering blood glucose results to the SmartPhone and not to the normal CGM receiver. This is one of the remaining “closed-loop” research items to be completed before the AP can become commercially available.

For now, that’s my story. Stay tuned for my next blog post and photos — from the in-patient glucose variability trial at UVA this coming week. Remember — We R the Cure. We R the ones who will make a brighter day for Type 1 diabetics.