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NHS to roll out artificial pancreas developed at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge

An artificial pancreas developed at Addenbrooke’s Hospital is being rolled out by the NHS for patients with type one diabetes.

The new device, which was pioneered by Cambridge-based Professor Roman Hovorka and is called the CamAPS FX app, continually monitors a person’s blood glucose, then automatically adjusts the amount of insulin given to them through a pump.

Professor Roman Hovorka
Professor Roman Hovorka

It can be used to help children and adults and is the only one suitable for pregnant women.

Prof Hovorka said: “It is very exciting that a device developed in Cambridge with the help of local experts and local people will now become accessible to patients all over the country.

“It will enable them to spend less time having to focus on managing their condition and worrying about the blood sugar levels, and more time getting on with their lives.”

Prof Hovorka has spent more than 20 years studying diabetes. He is professor of metabolic technology at the Institute of Metabolic Science-Metabolic Research Laboratories, and his work is facilitated by the NIHR Cambridge Clinical Research Facility, Cambridge Clinical Research Centre.

In December 2021, an expert team from Addenbrooke’s and Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals successfully used the closed-loop system, along with diluted insulin, to assist a seven-month-old baby.

And in January the same year a similar trial was held at Addenbrooke’s for adults living with type two diabetes.

In November last year, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended systems such as the CamAPS FX for use in managing type one diabetes.

Local NHS systems will now start identifying those who could benefit from the Hybrid Closed Loop system – often referred to as an artificial pancreas. There are currently 269,095 people living in England with type 1 diabetes.

The technology will mean some with type 1 diabetes will no longer need to inject themselves with insulin but rely on technology to receive the life-saving medication.

This can also help prevent life-threatening hypoglycaemic and hyperglycaemia attacks, which can lead to seizures, coma or even death.

NHS England, which describes the roll-out as a world-first, says it has provided local health systems with £2.5million so they are ready to start identifying patients that can benefit.

The mass roll-out builds on a successful pilot of the technology by NHS England, which saw 835 adults and children with type one diabetes given devices to improve the management of their condition.

The NHS in England currently spends around £10billion a year – around 10 per cent of its entire budget – on identifying and treating diabetes.

Dr Clare Hambling, national clinical director for diabetes, said: “Type one diabetes is an easily missed diagnosis so if you are concerned about symptoms – the 4Ts – going to the Toilet, passing urine more frequently, with Thirst, feeling Tired and getting Thinner (losing weight), please come forward for support.”

NICE recommends the devices should be rolled out to children and young people under 18 with type one diabetes, pregnant women with type one diabetes, and adults with type one diabetes who have an HbA1c of 58 mmol/mol (7.5 per cent) or higher.

- Nominate a member of staff at Cambridge University Hospitals (Addenbrooke’s, The Rosie or other CUH sites) for a Public Choice Award here - part of the CUH Annual Awards.

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