An ‘artificial pancreas’ has been developed that could help people with type 1 diabetes to manage their condition with little human input.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), which advises the NHS on new technologies, has recommended the use of hybrid closed-loop systems for managing blood glucose levels.
Real-world NHS trials allowed people suffering with the condition to go about their day-to-day life without having to monitor if their blood glucose levels are too high or too low.
If type 1 diabetes is not well controlled, people are at risk of long-term complications of hyperglycaemia, including blindness, amputations or kidney problems.
The hybrid closed-loop system comprises of a continuous glucose monitor sensor attached to the body which transmits data to a body-worn insulin pump. This uses the data to run a mathematical calculation to work out how much insulin needs to be delivered to keep blood glucose levels within a healthy range.
Nice has recommended the device to people who are unable to control their condition despite using an insulin pump, or real-time or intermittently scanned continuous glucose monitoring.
In total, around 105,000 people in England and Wales could be offered the technology out of an estimated 278,000 that are living with the condition.
The draft recommendations also require NHS England to agree a cost-effective price for the systems on behalf of relevant health bodies. At present an average annual cost for the technology is £5,744, which is higher than what Nice considers a cost-effective use of National Health Service (NHS) resources.
Mark Chapman, interim director of Medical Technology at Nice, said: “Some people living with type 1 diabetes struggle to manage their condition, even though they are doing everything asked of them by their diabetes team. This technology is the best intervention to help them control their diabetes, barring a cure.
“Our committee has reviewed the real-world data generated by the NHS and evidence generated by randomised controlled trials which show there are clear benefits of recommending the technology’s use. We look forward to working with NHS England and industry to ensure a cost-effective price can be reached which is fair to taxpayers.”
Professor Partha Kar OBE, national specialty advisor for diabetes at NHS England, said: “This technology has been proven to give the best control for managing type 1 diabetes and should make things like amputations, blindness and kidney problems possibly a thing of the past.