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100 Years ago....

DISCOVERY: Insulin gives diabetics hope

Dec 29, 1921

Medical history was made this year with the isolation of insulin, a natural chemical that may make it possible for diabetics to lead normal lives, instead of facing almost certain death. The work was done in Toronto, Canada, by Frederick Banting and Charles Best.

Insulin controls the level of the energy-giving sugar glucose in the blood. In diabetes insulin is lacking. For some time scientists have suspected that it comes from special cells in a digestive organ called the pancreas. Hitherto all attempts at isolating it have failed, as outside the body the pancreas digests its own insulin.

Banting and Best ingeniously overcame this difficulty and obtained an insulin extract from dogs that cured diabetes in other dogs. Their experiments are not yet complete, but there is every reason for hoping that insulin will cure human diabetics too.

This year's Physics Nobel Prize went to Albert Einstein, not, however, for his relativity theories, but for successfully explaining the so called photelectric effect in terms of the quantum theory.

Article from "Chronicle of the 20th Century" ISBN 1 872031 80 3

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