Tidepool has officially thrown its support behind Loop, an app designed for DIY automated insulin delivery devices, also known as an artificial pancreas. This is great news for anyone with diabetes who uses an insulin pump and an iPhone.
The goal is to make this artificial pancreas technology FDA approved and broadly available to anyone using the iOS App Store. This will mark the first time a crowdsourced DIY diabetes device becomes FDA-approved. This moves artificial pancreas technology away from being a risky DIY venture into something patients and doctors alike can rely on.
Tidepool says, “We expect the Tidepool Loop app to be compatible with at least one, and hopefully many more commercial, in-warranty insulin pumps. We are working closely with pump vendors on their ‘iPump’ capabilities, analogous to the ‘iCGM’ de novo designation released by the FDA in March 2018.”
How an artificial pancreas app works
An artificial pancreas app like Loop works by helping you avoid blood sugar highs and lows. The app connects to an insulin pump and CGM using Bluetooth LE. It runs an algorithm every five minutes which adjusts your insulin for the next 30 minutes. This takes the guess work out of when to check your blood sugar and how much insulin to administer, making it a safe option for those with type 1 diabetes.
The app also gathers all of your data in one place, making it easier for the user and their doctor to study the data and learn the trends of their blood sugar levels.
Pros and cons of an artificial pancreas
Given that artificial pancreas technology is still fairly new, it comes with several pros and cons.
- Reduces fear of hypoglycemia
- Gives comfort to user and family members
- Improves confidence to manage diabetes properly
- Lack of tech support
- Complex DIY process
- High cost
The Loop app also comes with a compatible Apple Watch app, allowing users to easily track carb intake, bolus, and pre-meal glucose target directly from the Watch.