Trial ‘world-wide’ in type 1 diabetes research

Working together… Lions Clubs District 202F representatives Wendy Goodwin (left) and Pam Fiveash (right) joined Professor Jim Mann (second from left) and Professor Ben Wheeler at the ‘Transforming Lives: 100 years of insulin’ symposium held in Wellington in November. District 202F was one of the partners supporting the symposium. PHOTO: LUKE PILKINGTON-CHING

A ‘‘world-first opportunity’’ to use artificial pancreas technology has started for a group of young New Zealanders with type 1 diabetes who are struggling to control their blood glucose levels.
University of Otago Edgar National Centre for Diabetes and Obesity Research (EDOR) staff recently received $140,000 from the Lions Clubs District 202F (Otago and Southland) to support Professor Ben Wheeler’s nationwide trial researching advanced diabetes technology for people aged 7 to 25.
Prof Wheeler said the trial was a ‘‘world-first opportunity’’ to use a form of automated insulin delivery, in which participants were fitted with a continuous glucose monitoring sensor and an insulin delivery pump.
‘‘They connect to each other and there’s a computer in the insulin pump which carries an algorithm which makes all the decisions about how much or how little insulin to release, based on the glucose levels sent to it.
‘‘We’re world leaders in this area. We’ve done a range of different studies over the years.
‘‘What’s special about this one is it’s the first randomised controlled trial in this specific child and youth population who have largely failed traditional therapies like normal insulin injections or pump therapy.’’
The ultimate aim was to show how reliable and effective the automated insulin delivery system was.
He believed the technology would reduce the burden of care for type 1 diabetics by automating patients’ treatment.
‘‘In my opinion, this technology is the gold standard of treatment for people with type 1 diabetes.
‘‘We’re hoping to prove that patients’ glucose control will dramatically improve, far more than any other study that’s gone before, and show that it’s safe for people to wear.’’
These findings could be life-changing because many young people with poorly-managed type 1 diabetes did not have access to this kind of technology, he said.
Study participant Sushanth Yadhav said the technology was already having a major impact on his diabetes control.
‘‘It’s been a tremendous help,’’ Mr Yadhav said.
‘‘I’m maintaining normal glucose levels now. I feel so much better since being on the system.’’
It was hoped the trial would help change the model of diabetes care worldwide and prompt the government to fund the equipment for type 1 diabetics.
Prof Wheeler said he and his team were very grateful for the support from Lions Clubs and the wider community, which helped make ongoing research possible.
‘‘The progress we’re making has the potential to dramatically improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of children and young adults around the world.’’
Lions District 202F representative Pam Fiveash said Lions Clubs had a special interest in reducing the prevalence of diabetes and improving the quality of life for those living with it.
‘‘Diabetes and youth are two of the five global causes supported by Lions International.
‘‘Our Lions district is privileged to be able to support the Edgar Diabetes and Obesity Research Centre, and in particular Prof Wheeler, in the work being done to improve the long-term health of young people with diabetes.’’