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Aust boy receives 'world first' technology for diabetes management

23 January, 2015

Access to life-changing technology is a step closer for Australians with type 1 diabetes.

Last week it was reported Australian boy Xavier Hames, a patient at Princess Margaret Hospital for Children (PMH) in WA, became the first patient in the world to receive breakthrough technology to help manage type 1 diabetes.

Insulin pump system

A new insulin pump system has been researched and tested through a series of clinical trials run by a team of specialists at PMH and a network of hospitals across Australia funded by Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and JDRF's Australian Type 1 Diabetes Clinical Research Network, a JDRF program supported by the federal government.

The pump system mimics the biological function of the pancreas to predict low glucose levels and stop insulin delivery. This avoids the serious consequences of low glucose such as coma, seizure and potential death.

Overnight diabetes management

PMH Professor Tim Jones was one of the leading clinicians involved in the research and trials for the new device.

"This is an instrumental development in the management of type 1 diabetes. It's the first time we've been able to offer patients a management tool that can prevent hypoglycaemia," he said.

"The majority of hypoglycaemic attacks occur at night when a person is asleep and they might not be able to react or recognise the attack. This device can predict hypoglycaemia before it happens and stop insulin delivery before a predicted event.

"This coupled with the fact that the pump automatically resumes insulin when glucose levels recover is a real medical breakthrough.

"The research and testing behind the new pump system is some of the most advanced in diabetes therapy and we are delighted to be the first to offer this new system to patients at PMH."

The patient

Xavier Hames is four years old and was diagnosed with diabetes when he was 22 months. He has been receiving regular treatment at PMH since his diagnosis and will be the first child, outside of the clinical trials, to use the new device.

Xavier's mother Naomi said the pump system was a breakthrough in Xavier's care and for others suffering with the disease worldwide.

"Having the pump gives us the reassurance that Xavier is safe when we are all asleep at night, and during the day. It is also waterproof meaning that he can enjoy water sports and activities as much as his friends and family," she said.

"We are so delighted to be part of this milestone event and to be receiving the very best treatment for our little boy."

Dr Dorota Pawlak, Director of the JDRF Australian Type 1 Diabetes Clinical Research Network, said: "Artificial pancreas systems have the promise to transform the lives of people with type 1 diabetes by eliminating much of the burden of the daily management of the disease while improving glucose control."

The new pump system is the first technology to track glucose levels and shut off insulin up to 30 minutes prior to a predicted hypoglycaemic event, meaning that the person will not experience hypoglycaemia.

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