NIH to weigh in on artificial pancreas development at upcoming meeting

The National Institutes of Health headquarters in Bethesda, MD--Courtesy of the NIH

Artificial pancreases are moving closer to market and the government wants to weigh in. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is holding a workshop to discuss the technology and how to make the devices safe and efficient for patients.

The NIH's National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases on July 6-7 will host a "multidisciplinary discussion of current and emerging systems and their components," including "regulatory and reimbursement considerations" and "prospective areas of research to accelerate the availability of a wearable, affordable and user-friendly artificial pancreas" for diabetics, the NIH said on its website.

During the discussion, the committee will touch on different topics affecting artificial pancreas development. Committee members including Guillermo Arreaza-Rubin, director of the NIH's Diabetes Technology program, will hash out cybersecurity and data management for the devices and "strategies to facilitate the development of a viable commercial platform," the NIH said.

Patients waiting for artificial pancreas technology have been taking matters into their own hands. Individuals are building "closed loop" systems that incorporate diabetes devices and open-source software, Medscape reports.

The software is based on the Open Artificial Pancreas System, or OpenAPS, which was developed by a Type 1 diabetes patient and her husband. The system comprises a Raspberry Pi mini-computer, a Medtronic ($MDT) insulin pump with a Carelink USB, and a Dexcom ($DXCM) continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system with software code. The code became open-source last year and more than 40 people worldwide are using some form of it, according to the Medscape story.

Meanwhile, companies such as Cellnovo Group ($CLNV) and Medtronic and are rushing toward market with their artificial pancreas devices. In February, Cellnovo teamed up with TypeZero Technologies to take part in an NIH-backed artificial pancreas trial in Type 1 diabetes patients.

Earlier this month, Medtronic said it was close to having final data from a pivotal trial of its Hybrid Closed Loop System. The company expects to submit the data to the FDA by the end of June and is aiming for an April 2017 launch for its artificial pancreas.

- read more about the workshop
- here's the Medscape story