By, Gary Scheiner MS, CDE

Greetings from AADE (American Association of Diabetes Educators) in sunny San Diego!  This year’s annual meeting drew nearly 4000 diabetes care professionals as well as more than 100 companies serving the diabetes industry.  Among the more exciting developments was the unveiling of Medtronic’s new 630G insulin pump, which received FDA clearance just a few days ago.  I had a chance to “play around” with the new pump, and here’s what I learned:

Some things haven’t changed.

Don’t confuse the 630G with the 640G, which is available in Europe.  640G includes an automated feature for preventing hypoglycemia by curtailing basal insulin delivery when the integrated sensor predicts that a low may occur soon.  The 630G works similarly to the 530G (currently available in the States), which suspends basal insulin once a low has already occurred.  So we’re still a long way from a fully-automated closed-loop system, folks.  The 630G also uses the same Enlite sensor that we’ve been using for the past several years.  So PLEASE refrain from calling this an “artificial pancreas”.  A pancreas does a heck of a lot more than stop secreting insulin in a state of hypoglycemia.  Heck… any pancreas worth its weight wouldn’t allow hypoglycemia to occur in the first place!

A lot has changed.

There is a lot that is “new and improved” with the 630G.  The “paradigm” pump platform has been completely re-designed and re-engineered.  The 630G has a full-color, high-contrast screen.  The buttons are oriented like an i-pod:  up, down, left, right and a center “enter” key.  This makes navigation much more intuitive.  Unfortunately, programming a standard “bolus wizard” bolus takes a few more button pushes than in the previous Paradigm models, but this is more than made up for with the more logical programming menus.

Good news for sensor users:  The alarms/alerts can be set louder than ever before.  In fact, the pump can be set to both beep and vibrate rather than having to choose one or the other.  Pool/beach/lake/river/bathtub lovers will also appreciate that the 630G is fully waterproof.  The duration of bolus action (active insulin time) can be set in 15-minute intervals rather than whole-hour increments.  Frequently-used temporary basal settings can be “preset”, and there is an “airplane mode” feature that quickly disables radio transmissions.

Speaking of transmissions, the 630G comes with a new MiniLink transmitter for sending signals from the Enlite continuous glucose sensor.  The transmitter uses a higher frequency to extend its range and reduce the incidence of lost signals.  An updated version of the Contour Next Link meter will also ship with the pump.  The 2.4 version of the meter has the capability to program “easy boluses” into the pump remotely. 

Clearly, Medtronic has made a number of improvements that will enhance safety, functionality and ease-of-use.  Now we eagerly await the 670G, a system that makes automated adjustments for rising and falling glucose levels. 

Just a few more pieces towards completing the closed-loop puzzle.