Jake O’Brien, 16, has had type 1 diabetes for just two years, and he’s already thrown himself into an effort to improve life for all with the disease. Jake was the first person to be recruited to the Hybrid Closed-Loop Outpatient Trial study.
WA-based Jake is signed up at the centre which is leading the study for his age group , The Children’s Diabetes Centre at the Telethon Kids Institute. While Jake is part of the younger persons’ study, there is an equivalent for adults, running concurrently. Both are the longest and largest at-home trials of a hybrid closed-loop insulin pump system — a device that is a step towards an artificial pancreas.
The multi-centre studies involve several Australian hospitals and will run for six months. Some Some randomly-selected participants will test an automated insulin delivery system while they go about their everyday activities – work, school, sport – to see if it is better at optimising blood glucose levels than standard therapy.
The young persons’ study will involve 160 participants aged 12 to 25, while the adult study will need 120 people aged 26 to 70 years to take part. Both are still recruiting.
Professor Tim Jones, co-director of the Children’s Diabetes Centre at the Telethon Kids Institute and paediatrician at Princess Margaret Hospital, leads the youth study, while Associate Professor David O’Neal, an Endocrinologist at Melbourne’s St Vincent’s Hospital, heads up the adult trial.
Professor Jones said researchers wanted to understand whether hybrid closed-loop systems could improve the quality of life for people with T1D, in addition to any healthcare system savings this type of treatment could bring.
“The hybrid closed-loop system consists of an insulin pump, sensor with transmitter attached and a maths program (an algorithm) within the pump that automatically works out how much insulin is needed and is adjusted every five minutes,” Professor Jones said.
“This study will tell us if using this system is better than either insulin injections or normal insulin pump therapy at keeping blood glucose levels within the normal range.”
“Researchers will also explore how this technology affects how people feel about managing diabetes, specifically by improving their blood glucose levels, reducing diabetes complications and making treatment easier — which all goes towards reducing the burden of diabetes.”
Jake believes the only way to improve outcomes for people with T1D is through research, and people like himself becoming involved in clinical trials. He said that since his diagnosis his life has been completely different.
“Managing diabetes involves a lot of hard work, trial and error and a whole lot of guessing! The biggest challenges associated with having T1D are the constant involvement with the condition. It doesn’t go away. You have to be 100% committed to it 100% of the time. In order to control diabetes you have to have an incredible amount of patience and diligence.”
Jake’s hope is that through taking part in this study, he can be part of not only learning more about T1D, but about improving treatment options into the future. He also hopes to play a part in raising awareness about T1D clinical trials.
These clinical trials are funded by the Type 1 Diabetes Clinical Research Network, an innovative clinical research program led by JDRF Australia and funded by a Special Research Initiative through the Australian Research Council.
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You can find existing trials, including the Hybrid Closed-Loop Outpatient Trial, which are recruiting, via our Trial Finder.