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JDRF Aims to Make Closed Loop More Customizable & Interoperable

By Ben Pallant and Adam Brown

Initiative encourages pump and CGM devices to use “open protocols” to enable the DIY community, innovation, and more options for automated insulin delivery

JDRF has announced an exciting new initiative to speed up the development of “open protocol” devices for automated insulin delivery (AID). The initiative encourages pump and CGM manufacturers to provide seamless, secure connectivity with other devices and smartphone apps.

What is an open protocol? An “open protocol” is a standardized way of allowing devices to communicate with each other. For example, a company would add Bluetooth to their pump or CGM device, allowing other developers’ devices and apps to easily and securely talk to it – just like one company’s Bluetooth headphones easily pair with another company’s phone.

Ultimately, JDRF hopes this program will drive an ecosystem of different pump and CGM devices that allow users to mix and match different companies’ products, including do-it-yourself (DIY) apps and algorithms someone may choose to use. For instance, a pump from Company A could talk to a CGM from company B, which could automate insulin delivery via an algorithm or app developed by company C. If successful, this could dramatically change the paradigm of device development and innovation.

The program is rooted in the ambitious, diverse, and highly talented DIY community, which has made tremendous progress in insulin automation (OpenAPSLoop) and remote monitoring (Nightscout). These systems are not FDA approved but are gaining an increasing number of curious and motivated users. However, they have had to waste time reverse engineering pump and CGM communication protocols. If pumps and CGMs from different companies are updated to become interoperable and talk to each other (and apps), the DIY community’s pace of innovation will accelerate dramatically – translating into more useful and better-performing automated insulin delivery that works with a wider variety of devices. 

JDRF is committing at least $1 million to the initiative and will provide applicants with legal and regulatory help. These are among the biggest questions with “open protocol” systems: who is “responsible” if something goes wrong while I’m using one company’s pump, another company’s CGM, and a DIY app? In addition, how will FDA approval work for these “component” systems involving multiple parties? There are lots of nuanced questions to address, but JDRF is very committed to seeing this through. 

Though JDRF encourages pump and CGM makers to apply, DIY developers can apply too – get more details here.

And of course, JDRF is still committed to companies that want to go the traditional “proprietary” route, submitting a combined pump, CGM, and algorithm for approval.

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