Posts Tagged ‘APS’

What is #DIYPS (Do-It-Yourself Pancreas System)?

June 20, 2014

#DIYPS (the Do-It-Yourself Pancreas System) was created by Dana Lewis and Scott Leibrand in the fall of 2013.

#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.

You can read this post for more details about how the system works.

While #DIYPS was invented for purposes of better using a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and initially tailored for use with an insulin pump, what we discovered is that #DIYPS can actually be used with many types of diabetes technology. It can be utilized by those with:

  • CGM and insulin pump
  • CGM and multiple daily injections (MDI) of insulin
  • no CGM (fingerstick testing with BG meter) and insulin pump
  • no CGM (fingerstick testing with BG meter) and multiple daily injections (MDI) of insulin

Here are some frequently asked questions about #DIYPS:

  1. Q:I love it. How can I get it?A: Right now, #DIYPS is n=1, and because it is making recommendations based on CGM data, we can’t publicly post the code to enable someone else to utilize #DIYPS.But, you can get Nightscout, which includes all of the publicly-available components of #DIYPS, including the ability to upload Dexcom CGM data, view it on any web browser and on a Pebble watch, and get basic alarms for high and low BG. We’re working to further develop #DIYPS, and also to break out specific features and make them available in Nightscout as soon as possible.
  2. Q: “Does #DIYPS really work?”A: Yes! For N=1, we’ve seen some great results. Click here to read a post about the results from #DIYPS after the first 100 days – it’s comparable to the bionic pancreas trial results. Or, click here to read our results after using #DIYPS for a full year.
  3. Q: “Why do you think #DIYPS works?”A: There could be some correlation with increased timed/energy spent thinking about diabetes compared to normal. (We’d love to do some small scale trials comparing people who use CGMs with easy access to time-in-range metrics and/or eAG data, to compare this effect). And, #DIYPS has also taught us some key lessons related to pre-bolusing for meals and the importance of having insulin activity in the body before a meal begins. You should read 1) this post that talks about our lessons learned from #DIYPS; 2) this post that gives a great example of how someone can eat 120 grams of carbohydrates of gluten-free pizza with minimal impact to blood glucose levels with the help of #DIYPS; and 3) this post that will enable you to find out your own carbohydrate absorption rate that you can start using to help you decide when and how you bolus/inject insulin to handle large meals. And of course, the key reason #DIYPS works is because it reduces the cognitive load for a person with diabetes by constantly providing push notifications and real time alerts and predictions about what actions a person with diabetes might need to consider taking. (Read more detail from this post about the background of the system.)
  4. Q:Awesome!  What’s next?A: We’re working on new features for DIYPS, of course.  Those include:
    • better real-time BG readings using raw unfiltered sensor values
    • calculation of insulin activity and carb absorption curves (and from there, ISF & IC ratios, etc.) from historical data
    • better-calibrated BG predictions using those calculated absorption curves (with appropriate error bars representing predictive uncertainty)
    • recommendations for when to change basal rates, based on observed vs. predicted BG outcomes
    • integration with activity tracking and calendar data
    • closing the loop – done as of December 2014! 🙂

    We also are starting to collaborate with medical technology and device companies, the FDA, and other projects and organizations like Tidepool, to make sure that the ideas, insights, and features in #DIYPS get integrated as widely as possible. Stay tuned (follow the #DIYPS hashtagDana Lewis & Scott Leibrand on Twitter, and keep an eye on this blog) for more details about what we’re up to.

  5. Q: “I love it. What can I do to help the #DIYPS project?”A: We’d love to know if you’re interested in helping! First and foremost, if you have any ability to code (or a desire to learn), we need contributors to the Nightscout project.  There are many things to work on, including implementing the most broadly applicable #DIYPS features into Nightscout, so we need as many volunteers, with as many different types of skills, as we can get.  For those who are less technical, the CGM in the Cloud Facebook group is a great place to start. Click here to see the Nightscout project roadmap; it shows what developers are currently working on, what each of our priority focus areas are (as of 11/26/14), and the ‘backlog’ of projects we know we want (and the community wants), but no one has started on yet (jump on in!).
    If you want to contact us directly, you can reach out to us on Twitter (@DanaMLewis @ScottLeibrand and #DIYPS) or email us here. We’d also love to know if you’re working on a similar project or if you’ve heard of something else that you think we should look into for a potential #DIYPS feature or collaboration.


Dana Lewis & Scott Leibrand

How I Became a DIY Artificial Pancreas System Builder

February 6, 2014

As some of you may know, I’m a Network and Systems Engineering type who works in the Internet industry.  I have a B.S. in Cell and Molecular Biology, but I have been working in computer networking and for Internet companies for the last decade and a half (since I was still in school), and have had the privilege of working on a number of different types of systems in that time.  Nine months ago, I met a wonderful person who happens to have Type 1 Diabetes, and began learning just what was involved in managing the condition.

On the one hand, I was impressed at the level of data available from her CGM (glucose readings every 5 minutes), and the visibility that provided into what was going on.  But I was also very surprised to find that the state-of-the-art medical technology she uses is, in many ways, stuck in the last century.  Data is not shared between devices; her pump looks and acts like it came straight out of the early 1990s.  (But at least it’s purple!) 😉

Most importantly, it is completely up to the person with diabetes (PWD) to collect all the relevant data on their current state, do a bunch of math in their head, and decide what to do based on the data, their experience, and how they’re feeling.  And as a PWD, that’s not something you just do once in a while: it is a constant thing, every time you eat anything, every time your blood sugars go high or low (for dozens of reasons), every time you want to go exercise, etc. etc. etc.  As a PWD, you’re dealing with life-and-death decisions multiple times a day: Too much insulin will put you into hypoglycemia and can kill you.  No insulin for too long will put you into diabetic ketoacidosis and kill you.  Overreacting to a high or low blood glucose (BG) situation and correcting too far in the other direction can completely incapacitate you.  So as a PWD, you never get a break.

So, very early on, the obvious question was: why can’t we integrate all this data and make this easier?  There were promising signs that it could be done: Artificial Pancreas Systems developed by various research groups and medical device companies are in clinical trials, and are showing promising results.  In fact, she had just signed up for such a trial, and I was able to go with her to the clinic and watch just how a fully automated APS system works.  But despite these brief hints of a better future, day to day we were (usually, she was) stuck doing everything manually.

It was very clear from the beginning that the primary bottleneck to doing something better was the ability to get blood glucose (BG) data off her CGM (a Dexcom G4) in real time.  We knew it was possible to do so manually using Dexcom Studio, a Windows-only software package that is actually quite good for analyzing historical BG data, spotting trends, etc.  But unless we were going to create a Windows macro to open up Dexcom Studio, import the data, export it to CSV, and then close Studio every 5 minutes, we couldn’t get our hands on the data to do anything in real time.

Then, we discovered that John Costik had figured out how to use the Dexcom USB driver’s API to get data off his young son’s CGM in real time, and display it remotely, even on his Pebble watch, and even when his son was at day care or kindergarten.  This was the breakthrough we needed, so we contacted John, and he was able to provide us a copy of his script.

So now we were off to the races.  I cobbled together a system using Dropbox for uploading the BG data from a Windows laptop (that ended up in a bedside drawer), and once I was able to get the data onto a VM server, got working on putting together something that would actually make a difference in her quality of life.

So we worked through a number of ideas.  First off, we needed something that could wake her up at night when her BGs got too high or too low.  The Dexcom G4 is supposed to do this, but even its loudest alerts are still not loud enough to wake a sound sleeper.  People recommend sticking the G4 in a glass or in a pile of change, but that doesn’t work, either. She also had used Medtronic’s CGM system; but even its loudest, escalating “siren” alert isn’t all that loud, even if awake.  We also needed something that would allow me to see the alerts remotely, and see whether she is awake and responding to them.  This is a big deal for many people, like her, who live alone.  So, I started coding, and she started testing.  We ended up using my cracked-screen iPad (it got into a fight with Roomba) as a bedside display (it’s much easier to glance over and see BG values than to have to find the CGM and punch a button), and also to receive much louder push notification alerts.

After we got basic notifications working, we also started trying to enhance them.  We ended up with a prototype system that allows the user to enter when they bolus insulin or take carbs, and snoozes alarms appropriately.  (This enables a de facto remote alert monitoring system, especially handy for individuals living alone.)  With that info, we are also able to do the calculations required to determine how much insulin is needed at any given point (the same calculations PWDs do in their head every time they eat or have to correct for high BG), and by doing those every 5 minutes as new data came in, we were able to provide early warning if she was likely to go low, or if she needed more insulin to correct a persistent high.  Since getting all of that working, we have also developed a meal bolus feature, which takes advantage of an (as far as I know unique) ability to track how fast carbs are likely to be absorbed into the bloodstream to give the user better estimates of how much insulin is required now, vs. how much will likely be required later as the rest of the meal is digested.

Since she started began actively testing the #DIYPS (Do It Yourself Pancreas System), we have seen a decrease in average BG levels, with less time spent low, and less time spent high. It also enables her to execute “soft landings” after a high BG and prevents “rebounds” after a low BG.  We are very encouraged by what we’ve seen so far, and are continuing to iterate and add additional alerts and features.  But today, the #DIYPS is just a prototype system, and has only been development tested with a single user, so lots of additional development and testing are required.  We are not yet ready to begin allowing (and helping) a large number of users to begin testing the system themselves, but hope to open it up in a manner that will allow as many people as possible to begin safely using the system as soon as possible.  However, this is currently only a 2-person side project.  We are looking to begin collaborating with anyone who has the skills and interest required to move the project forward, so if you think it’s worthwhile to move forward more quickly, I would encourage you to get involved (if you have technical or other skills that would be helpful) or pass along the word to others who might be interested and able to help.

If you’re interested, you can also read more about why a #DIYPS is needed now (and how it compares to true closed-loop automated Artificial Pancreas Device Systems).  We’ll also be publishing a full description of how the #DIYPS prototype works shortly, so stay tuned.

Scott Leibrand