Artificial Pancreas Webcast

Anyone else catch the JDRF Advocacy Artificial Pancreas Webcast on March 8?

Since I haven't seen it discussed on here I'm thinking many didn't.  The presenter was Dr. Aaron Kowalski who I guess works on the Artificial Pancreas project.  I did and here are the highlights that I got:

Good progress is being made and they are looking to extend trials outside of the hospital setting.

People who did the hospital test which included being hooked up to monitors and IVs and all kinds of stuff said they thought it was great that they didn't have think about BS and let the computer do it which it did really well.

Algorythms can be set up that are very effective, but they're struggling on how to make it more generic so it could be commercialized.  Evidently they have to be tweaked for each person right now.

Dr Kowalski really likes Diet Cream Soda.  Some on the webcast texted that he shouldn't drink sodas because they're bad for him.  He disputed that.  (He concurs with you C!)

Dr Kowalski who is a diabetic ran in the NY marathon and has qualified for Boston.

The VEO I think it is that shuts off the pump if the CGM notices low BS has been approved in Eruope but not here.  One of the concerns here was that if the CGM was in error and your BS was really high and the pump was shut off, could send you into a coma.  He said their testing showed that even in this case if the pump was shut off for 2 hours this wouldn't happen.

He thinks with the current technology of pumps and CGMs that "pretty good" control can be attained.

Smart Insulin is proceeding well too.   they've had some success in animal trials.  The company working on Smart Insulin is probably going to be acquired by Merk, which he sees as a positive because of the greater resources Merk has.

Dr. Kowalski addressed the concern voiced here and elsewhere that drug companies are not trying to cure diabetes because they're presently making scads of cash selling pumps and insulin and syringes and testing supplies etc.  He said this is not true primarily because all these companies know that if they don't, someone else will.  Then where will they be?  Interesting point I thought.

He said work in being done on implantable CGMs so that it would be implanted once and not have to have insertion changed out every few days.  Sounds good to me as long as it's safe. 

While I didn't hear Dr Kowalski say this, several people on the chat said that a CGM and pump using the same insertion are coming.  I'd seriously consider this when it happens.

The only thing that I heard that I didn't really like is that a lot of these advances are targeted at least initially for people who can't control it (which is OK) and kids.  Doesn't make me too hopeful of a better D life for a 52 year old man.

He also said he believes there will absolutely be a cure someday, but not in the next 5 years!

My own editorial comment: While this whole project sounds cool, I might be nervous about turning over this critical body function to a computer.  I work with computers all day everyday, and they don't always do what you think they will.  A "glitch" in this system could be fatal.  I'm just not sure I trust computers enough to put my life in their hands, but we'll see ...


I tuned into the broadcast, too, and share some of the same concerns/thoughts you did! (I also wrote some feedback on it on my blog yesterday.)

Dr. K isn't just a guy who works on the project - he's the researcher overseeing the whole thing! I always enjoy his presentations. He's a smart, engaging guy who, while totally book smart, can translate all of that for people like me (sans science background) to understand. I think it's also an asset that he has real-world experience with type 1, as he's lived with it since he was a child (and his brother has type 1, as well).

Smart insulin scares me, but maybe that's just me. I find the AP fascinating, but frightening, as well. I'm used to being the one who makes the decisions in my daily care, and all of sudden turning that over to a machine is quite the paradigm shift. I'm not sure I'm ready for it.

Thanks for starting this discussion - I hope others weigh in! (If you missed the webcast, it was recorded and available to view on JDRF Advocacy's USTREAM channel, here:

Thanks for your update! I didn't watch because I'd recently heard him (and DR Damiano, AP researcher in Boston) speak at a jdrf research summit, and it sounds like he mentioned similar things. But, I had NOT heard that about implantable cgm's -- cool!

I'm much less suspicious of turning over control to an AP or smart insulin since hearing the researchers speak. They really made me feel better about the safety, esp of the AP. Reading Dan Hurley's Diabetes Rising book, chapter on the AP, also made me more open to the idea...

Also, I've been so burnt out recently with my D that I'm ready to turn over control to anyone but me -- computers, smart insulin, androids, aliens, Bill Gates -- doesn't matter! lol.