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Amazing. That was my reaction, and expect yours will be too, learning about the efforts of Dana Lewis and Scott Leibrand, true independent health innovators, on their closed-loop DIY Artificial Pancreas System (DIYPS). They began work on it in 2013, initially setting out to create a better glucose monitor alarm system–for example, one loud enough to wake someone before blood sugar dropped to dangerous levels. From that foundation, they set out to tackle “state-of-the-art medical technology that was stuck in the last century.”

After a full year of trial data (patient sample size: n=1… Dana herself) and lab-tests, they observed reduced eAG  and A1Cs (tests which show blood glucose levels over the prior 3 months).

what a closed loop #DIYPS artificial pancreas looks like
What a closed loop DIYPS artificial pancreas looks like

The DIYPS includes an insulin pump, and a cloud-connected continuous glucose monitor (with a receiver that auto-uploads).
From the DIYPS.org Blog:

#DIYPS was developed with the goal of solving a well-known problem with an existing FDA-approved medical device. As recounted here (from Scott) and here (from Dana), we set out to figure out a way to augment continuous glucose monitor (CGM) alerts, which aren’t loud enough to wake heavy sleepers, and to alert a loved one if the patient is not responding. We were able to solve those problems and include additional features such as:

  • Real-time processing of blood glucose (BG), insulin on board, and carbohydrate decay
  • Customizable alerts based on CGM data and trends
  • Real-time predictive alerts for future high or low BG states (hours in advance)
  • Continually updated recommendations for required insulin or carbs

…and as of December 2014, we ‘closed the loop’ and have #DIYPS running as a closed loop artificial pancreas.
Dana Lewis DIYPS one year findings data sustainability.

The pair are looking for funding “to develop #DIYPS into a scalable system” to help make managing diabetes easier. FDA approval notwithstanding, it’s hard to imagine how an open-source biomedical technology could meet with anything but excitement by those in need of a solution.

Dana writes: “Scott and I are hoping that we can not only show the world how open source innovation and new regulatory paradigms can deliver safe and effective results… but that we can also change how all successful medical device companies approach interoperability, and how traditional medical researchers do research – possibly in partnership with patient researchers like us.”

This is the kind of creative energy that improves (and even saves) lives. Open Source/DIY technology is one kind of innovation that would be exciting to see at Health Startup Weekend in May. Personal necessity is often the wellspring of innovation.  What will your legacy be?

To join in on the conversation around Dana and Scott’s project, visit #DIYPS  or #WeAreNotWaiting.


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Brian Crouch