Artificial pancreas project scoops national award


Professor David O’Neal and Diabetes Australia Group CEO Justine Cain

A new clinical research trial led by Professor David O’Neal, Senior Endocrinologist at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, has been awarded the highly sought-after Diabetes Australia Millennium Award – Type 1 Diabetes to help support the project.  

This prestigious national award comes with $150,000 funding that will assist Professor O’Neal and his team in progressing this vital research being led by St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne. 

The project hopes to show that an artificial pancreas can significantly improve health outcomes in people living with diabetes and advanced kidney disease.

Prof O’Neal said managing glucose levels in people with advanced kidney disease could be challenging.  

“On top of this, if they progress to dialysis that can present new challenges. Even the different types of dialysis can have different impacts on blood glucose levels,” Prof O’Neal said.  

“A Closed Loop system, sometimes referred to as an artificial pancreas, continuously monitors a person’s glucose levels and then provides rapid acting insulin to keep those levels within the target range. 

“We think this could be the flexible and responsive insulin delivery system that makes it easier for a person to manage their glucose levels and improve their quality of life.” 

Should this exciting new technology prove to be of benefit in people living with insulin-requiring diabetes and advanced renal disease, Prof O’Neal said the new information generated could then be used to advocate for resources to reduce the burden imposed upon these vulnerable people who have some of the poorest quality of life.

Supporting research

Kidney disease is a common and debilitating diabetes-related complication. There are more than 270,000 Australians currently living with diabetes and kidney disease. Some of them will progress to advanced stages of the disease including those requiring dialysis.

“Diabetes technology is one of the most exciting areas of diabetes research and we hope this project will help expand the ways it can support people,” says Diabetes Australia Group CEO Justine Cain.

Ms Cain said Diabetes Australia is proud of its role in supporting Australia’s world-leading diabetes researchers. 

“Diabetes Australia is one of the leading funders of diabetes research in Australia and we are committed to helping world-leading researchers like Professor O’Neal and his team at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne to make the breakthroughs that save and transform lives,” she said. 

The project is one of the first underway through the University of Melbourne’s new Australian Centre for Accelerating Diabetes Innovations (ACADI), which has affiliated centres located at three major Victorian hospitals including one based at St Vincent’s Hospital’s Fitzroy campus.