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Roll out of Cambridge-developed artificial pancreas is world first

An artificial pancreas developed with the help of staff and patients at Addenbrooke’s Hospital is one of four new devices to be rolled out by the NHS – helping tens of thousands of children and adults living with type one diabetes.

Professor Roman Hovorka head and shoulders
Professor Roman Hovorka

The ground-breaking device – pioneered by Cambridge-based Professor Roman Hovorka and 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.

It is the only device that has been fully developed in the UK and the only one suitable for women who are pregnant.

Professor 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.

Professor Roman Hovorka

For Professor Hovorka, the roll-out is the culmination of more than 20 years’ work studying the disease and collaborating with colleagues.

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 the 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- sometimes called an artificial pancreas. There are currently 269,095 people living in England with type one diabetes.

The technology will mean some with type one 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 £2.5 million so they are ready to start identifying patients that can benefit.

The mass rollout 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.

Each year, the NHS in England currently spends around £10 billion 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.

Dr Clare Hambling

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%) or higher.

For more information on the CamAPS FX app visit (opens in a new tab)