Toward a Fully Automated Artificial Pancreas System Using a Bioinspired Reinforcement Learning Design: In Silico Validation

IEEE J Biomed Health Inform. 2021 Feb;25(2):536-546. doi: 10.1109/JBHI.2020.3002022. Epub 2021 Feb 5.


Objective: The automation of insulin treatment is the most challenge aspect of glucose management for type 1 diabetes owing to unexpected exogenous events (e.g., meal intake). In this article, we propose a novel reinforcement learning (RL) based artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm for a fully automated artificial pancreas (AP) system.

Methods: A bioinspired RL designing method was developed for automated insulin infusion. This method has reward functions that imply the temporal homeostatic objective and discount factors that reflect an individual specific pharmacological characteristic. The proposed method was applied to a training method using an RL algorithm and was evaluated in virtual patients from the FDA approved UVA/Padova simulator with unannounced meal intakes.

Results: For a single-meal experiment with preprandial fasting, the trained policy demonstrated fully automated regulation in both the basal and postprandial phases. In the in silico trial with a variation of insulin sensitivity and dawn phenomenon, the policy achieved a mean glucose of 124.72 mg/dL and percentage time in the normal range of 89.56%. The layer-wise relevance propagation provides interpretable information on AI-driven decision for robustness to sensor noise, automated postprandial regulation, and insulin stacking avoidance.

Conclusion: The AP algorithm based on the bioinspired RL approach enables fully automated blood glucose control with unannounced meal intake.

Significance: The proposed framework can be extended to other drug-based treatments for systems with significant uncertainties.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Blood Glucose
  • Computer Simulation
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Insulin / therapeutic use
  • Insulin Infusion Systems
  • Pancreas, Artificial*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin