Diabetes: Models, Signals, and Control

IEEE Rev Biomed Eng. 2009 Jan 1;2:54-96. doi: 10.1109/RBME.2009.2036073.


The control of diabetes is an interdisciplinary endeavor, which includes a significant biomedical engineering component, with traditions of success beginning in the early 1960s. It began with modeling of the insulin-glucose system, and progressed to large-scale in silico experiments, and automated closed-loop control (artificial pancreas). Here, we follow these engineering efforts through the last, almost 50 years. We begin with the now classic minimal modeling approach and discuss a number of subsequent models, which have recently resulted in the first in silico simulation model accepted as substitute to animal trials in the quest for optimal diabetes control. We then review metabolic monitoring, with a particular emphasis on the new continuous glucose sensors, on the analyses of their time-series signals, and on the opportunities that they present for automation of diabetes control. Finally, we review control strategies that have been successfully employed in vivo or in silico, presenting a promise for the development of a future artificial pancreas and, in particular, discuss a modular architecture for building closed-loop control systems, including insulin delivery and patient safety supervision layers. We conclude with a brief discussion of the unique interactions between human physiology, behavioral events, engineering modeling and control relevant to diabetes.