For six years, Professor B. Wayne Bequette, an associate of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Rensselaer, has been creating more advanced computer control systems for a closed-loop artificial pancreas progressively. His work stands to benefit the 15,000 children and 15,000 adults who are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, every year in the United States. For Bequette, the fight against Type 1 diabetes is also personal. His younger sister developed the condition in life early, as today when the state of diabetes care was not almost as advanced.

Bequette’s work is funded by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), combined with the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He frequently publishes research results in the publication’s Diabetes Technology and Therapeutics, and Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology, of which he is a founding person in the editorial plank. His most recent study, titled “A Closed-Loop Artificial Pancreas Based on Risk Management,” may be looked at online.

In Type 1 diabetes, an individual’s pancreas produces little if any insulin. As a total result, they must inject insulin several times every day or use an insulin pump that constantly administers smaller amounts of rapid-acting insulin. Additionally, every day they must test their blood sugars many times. Failure to maintain proper blood and insulin sugar levels could lead to serious, potentially life-threatening hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) reactions.

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Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age group, but is mostly diagnosed from infancy to the late 30s, according to the JDRF. A key challenge for people living with Type 1 diabetes, Bequette said, is the continuous monitoring of their blood sugar level. Blood glucose levels are usually measured from a little blood test captured from a finger stay test, to eating or sleeping prior. Another critical challenge, he said, is accurately estimating just how many carbohydrates they eat.

These blood sugars readings, along with the amount of carbs consumed, must be interpreted to choose how much insulin the individual needs to inject. Exercise and fitness also impact the quantity of insulin required. Continuous blood sugar monitors can be found on the marketplace but are not as accurate as finger sticks tests yet, he said. All in all, Bequette said, there are numerous judgment phone calls and best guesses being made on a daily basis by people with Type 1 diabetes. And even though medical technology for diabetes is very advanced and reliable, he is working on an artificial pancreas that could remove the need for most of this guesswork.

The latest incarnation of this device includes options for users to input their carbohydrate consumption. Bequette said this will raise the accuracy greatly, reliability, and predictive capability of the device. Importantly, the device will function if users neglect to source their meal information still. At the heart of the closed-loop artificial pancreas are Bequette’s carefully engineered algorithms.

The advanced computer code makes predictions based on data inputs, including blood sugar levels and consumed carbohydrates. Bequette employs model-predictive control and condition estimation techniques, which he used in his research in controlling traditional chemical procedures, such as essential oil refining. These methods have the ability to extract more meaningful, predictive data from blood glucose monitoring, and other critical areas of the artificial pancreas.

At this point, it is important to clarify that, while post-exercise (recovery) HR offers a crude sign of fitness, monitoring heart rate and respiratory system rate during exercise does not. Assessing these cardiovascular parameters during exercise only shows how hard a person is working right at that time. Note that if 2 people push their heart rate up to 175 beats per minute when they exercise, this does not suggest they have the same fitness level. If an aerobically fit person and an unfit person are running together at the same speed, the HR of the unfit person is a lot greater than that of the aerobically fit person.