JDRF, the leading global organization focused on type 1 diabetes (T1D) research, announced today that it has partnered with Dexcom Inc., a San Diego, CA-based medical device company focused on developing and marketing continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems. The goal of the partnership is to accelerate the development of a novel wireless "smart transmitter" that would allow a CGM system to communicate directly with an artificial pancreas control device currently being used for research studies, instead of only with a CGM receiver.
JDRF will provide Dexcom up to $500,000 throughout 12 months in milestone-based funding to complete the development, testing, and manufacturing of a custom "smart transmitter" prototype used for studies within JDRF's Artificial Pancreas Project academic research consortium. The direct communication capability enabled by the smart transmitter will be an important feature for artificial pancreas trials in outpatient (real-world) settings, as it would eliminate the need for a trial participant to carry multiple devices all wired together while testing an artificial pancreas system's ability to manage glucose levels.
Burdening people with T1D is the need to determine, constantly, the right amount of insulin to dose at the right time, multiple times every day. Yet even with diligent monitoring, a significant portion of the day is with either high or low blood sugar, placing them at risk for devastating complications. The artificial pancreas under development will be an external device that people with T1D could use to do what their bodies cannot--automatically control their blood sugar around the clock. It will work by combining an insulin pump and a CGM, which provides glucose readings every 1 to 5 minutes, with sophisticated computer software that allows the two devices to "talk to each other" to determine and provide automatically the right amount of insulin at the right time. Currently, all in-hospital artificial pancreas studies use wires and cables to connect a CGM system and an insulin pump to laptop computers or smartphones, which act as the artificial pancreas controllers.
In current CGM systems, the transmitter sends real-time glucose levels from the sensor to a receiver. In comparison, Dexcom's next generation of "smart transmitters" will have the ability to transmit, wirelessly, a glucose value directly to multiple devices, including several versions of an artificial pancreas controller.
"This robust wireless capability could greatly enhance the performance of closed-loop algorithms in outpatient studies, and we are proud to be working with JDRF on this exciting venture," states Terrance Gregg, chief executive officer of Dexcom.
"In order for us to truly achieve real-life outpatient studies of artificial pancreas systems, we need systems that will allow people the freedom and ability to move around while also providing safety, monitoring, and data collection," says Aaron Kowalski, Ph.D., assistant vice president of treatment therapies for JDRF. "Dexcom's 'smart transmitter' will allow the sensor to talk directly to multiple artificial pancreas control devices, and essentially eliminate the hassle of being encumbered by wires and other devices while trying to be active. Now that the first outpatient studies have started, the development of robust wireless connection capability is a key step toward accelerating the delivery of an artificial pancreas to all patients with T1D."