February 27, 2020

Treating Diabetes with a DIY Pancreas | Freethink DIY Science


When Ella was diagnosed
with Type One Diabetes we realized that our lives
were gonna be difficult. When you have a child that’s
got Type One Diabetes, their pancreas doesn’t work. And you, the parent, have
to become that pancreas. You’re making hundreds of
decisions a day for your child. You’ve sort of got a life
sentence in that you’re gonna have to get up three
or four times a night to keep your child safe. You’re making decisions
in the middle of the night when you’re tired. If you make a slight
decision not to do something, you could potentially harm your child. When I first saw Scott
and Dana’s post about the artificial pancreas being
able to control blood sugars, I was like, why isn’t this on the market? ELLA: So, most of them are from running. So these are from a
five K, this is from the Seafair Torchlight Run,
a medal I got at one of the karate tournaments. Ella is one
200,000 children in the US diagnosed with Type One Diabetes. It’s a relentless disease. And few people know that
better than Dana Lewis. Do you have the CGMs. I’ve got the CGMs.
Do you have sugar? Yeah. I do. I was diagnosed
with Type One Diabetes my freshman year of high
school, which made it very, very hard to deal with. It’s an autoimmune disease. We don’t know exactly what
causes it, but the body starts attacking itself, and
you no longer produce insulin. People with diabetes are
always planning ahead. Even if on the weekend,
I wanted to sleep in, I still had to wake up at the
same time, take that insulin and then go back to sleep. If I slept through the blood
sugar monitor going off I could potentially end up in a coma. I actually built a
safety plan with my mom, which was that she would
text me every morning, and say, are you awake? Which was not just, are
you awake, but really, are you alive, are you okay, do you have any problems going on? I used different kinds of
technology from different manufacturers, and they
all had the same problem, which was me not being
able to hear the alarm. Well, we’ve fixed that. So the fact that it doesn’t respond at all to single down click. Is that just the software? Okay.
It’s a bug. It’s something about the
timing that’s messed up. When I first met
Scott, he asked a lot of the same questions. Okay, how does the pump
work, how does the CGM, do they talk to each other? He was expecting the data
from one device to go to the other. He’s like, you know,
why doesn’t that work? About six months later, we
stumbled across a gentleman name John Costick, who was a parent of a child with diabetes. He had figured out how to
reverse engineer the software so he could pull the data
off and send it to the cloud. We were like, huh, if we
could use that, we could then build the system,
send the data to my phone, and make a louder alarm. Wouldn’t that be great? Our goal was just make
louder alarms, but we ended up stumbling our way into building an artificial pancreas. Our artificial pancreas
consists of a few components. It’s the insulin pump, and the
continuous glucose monitor. And what we do is we add a
small computer with a radio stick and a battery
that bridges the gap and becomes the communication
device between the pump and the CGM. So the small rig, as we
call it, the computer and the radio stick
together reads data from the insulin pump, it reads
data from the continuous glucose monitor, maps the
prediction into the future with our algorithm, and says,
here’s what’s gonna happen, here’s what action you
need to take as a result. But instead of alerting me as
the human, it automatically closes the loop and sends the command back to the insulin pump, and
raises or reduces the insulin amount, then it reads the
blood sugar again, and does that same map over and over again. It’s making hundreds of
decisions a day for me. So Dana took
that design and did what any self respecting tinkerer would do. She put it on the internet, for free. And she called it the Open
Artificial Pancreas System, or Open APS for short. Not only has this changed my life, but to know that it’s making
a difference for other people’s lives too. It’s changing the family
dynamic and making it so much easier for them
to live with diabetes. So yeah, she still
has a fair amount of IOB. Yeah. And she still has
Fair amount of carbs, a fair amount of carbs, so this is actually fairly perfect. It’s doing the right thing. So normally I would
have to be sweating this, and worried about, okay, she
was low earlier this morning. Now do I need to give her
a whole bunch of insulin to be able to make up for that? I don’t have to worry about
it anymore, ’cause the artificial pancreas is
gonna continue to monitor the situation, figure out
when she’s gonna hit that crest, even before I would
be able to visually see it. That’s the really cool part. Pizza was always a challenging food.

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