Nemours in Jacksonville testing new diabetes device

Artificial pancreas device called iLet will help children manage Type 1 diabetes

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Nemours Children’s Specialty Care in Jacksonville recently became the first research center to test a new device on children that will help them manage their Type 1 diabetes.  

The device, called iLet, is a bionic pancreas that’s currently being researched by Nemours and only three other medical centers in the United States. 

News4Jax got the chance to meet Josie Moore, who participated in the first trial program. The 11-year-old girl is hopeful she will one day get to wear the device permanently. 

Josie became part of the Nemours family after she was diagnosed in 2015 with Type 1 diabetes, which her mom said they’re still adjusting to. Every time Josie eats, she has to check her glucose levels -- something she does many times a day. 

“It’s been sleepless nights lots of oversight, teaching Josie how to care for herself because at some point we have to let her take over and manage her diabetes,” said Lisa Moore, Josie’s mother.

Several years after Josie’s diagnosis, her family was thrilled when they learned she would be part of Nemours’ research on the artificial pancreas device called iLet. Most current insulin pumps must be constantly monitored. But Keisha Bird, a nurse practitioner on the research team, said the iLet does that monitoring by itself.

“We’re always trying to figure out what’s the best formula or algorithm to keep them under control, however, this device takes that away,” said Bird, the team’s clinical research coordinator. “So it’s funny to say, would this kind of take away from our job? Well, it would because the device is doing all the work so there’s no guesstimating.”

Kim Englert, a registered nurse who’s also a member of the research team, knows firsthand how many lives the iLet will change, as she also has Type 1 diabetes. 

“Parents of children with diabetes are up every two hours, three hours at night, checking blood sugar, listening for the alerts, which really impacts a caregiver’s life,” said Englert, the team’s research program administrator. “You know, they lose sleep but they do it for their children and they have to make sure they’re safe.”

Moore explained what it would mean her as a mother for Josie to have the device to as Josie gets older.

“It means a lot less worry, selfishly,” she said. “I want this for us, but there are a lot of children out there and a lot of adults that would be managed so much better if they had this pump to be able to help them.”

For Josie, it would mean more freedom. 

“I could just walk into the kitchen and grab a cookie and eat it and I wouldn’t have to test my blood sugar,” Josie said.

Josie, her mother and the Nemours team look forward to 2020, when the device is expected to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and released to the public so that millions of people with diabetes can live better lives with less worry. 

The first trial that Josie and five other children participated in this summer lasted two weeks. Josie is hopeful she’ll get to be part of the second trial in fall 2019, when the same device will be tested but it will also inject glucagon along with insulin. 

For more on Nemours and the lifesaving research it does, visit Nemours.org.