A history of diabetes

This has been taken from the Canadian Diabetes Association website, with thanks.

1552 B.C.
Earliest known record of diabetes mentioned on 3rd Dynasty Egyptian papyrus by physician Hesy-Ra; mentions polyuria (frequent urination) as a symptom.

1st Century A.D.
Diabetes described by Arateus as ‘the melting down of flesh and limbs into urine.’

c. 164 A.D.
Greek physician Galen of Pergamum mistakenly diagnoses diabetes as an ailment of the kidneys.

Up to 11th Century
Diabetes commonly diagnosed by ‘water tasters,’ who drank the urine of those suspected of having diabetes; the urine of people with diabetes was thought to be sweet-tasting. The Latin word for honey (referring to its sweetness), ‘mellitus’, is added to the term diabetes as a result.

16th Century
Paracelsus identifies diabetes as a serious general disorder.

Early 19th Century
First chemical tests developed to indicate and measure the presence of sugar in the urine.

late 1850s
French physician, Priorry, advises diabetes patients to eat extra large quantities of sugar as a treatment.

French physician, Bouchardat, notices the disappearance of glycosuria in his diabetes patients during the rationing of food in Paris while under siege by Germany during the Franco-Prussian War; formulates idea of individualized diets for his diabetes patients.

19th Century
French researcher, Claude Bernard, studies the workings of the pancreas and the glycogen metabolism of the liver.
Czech researcher, I.V. Pavlov, discovers the links between the nervous system and gastric secretion, making an important contribution to science’s knowledge of the physiology of the digestive system.

Late 19th Century
Italian diabetes specialist, Catoni, isolates his patients under lock and key in order to get them to follow their diets.

Paul Langerhans, a German medical student, announces in a dissertation that the pancreas contains two systems of cells. One set secretes the normal pancreatic juice, the function of the other was unknown. Several years later, these cells are identified as the ‘islets of Langerhans.’

Oskar Minkowski and Joseph von Mering at the University of Strasbourg, France, first remove the pancreas from a dog to determine the effect of an absent pancreas on digestion.

November 14, 1891
Frederick Banting born near Alliston, Ontario. His parents, devout Methodist, try to pressure their son into joining the ministry; instead, in 1912, Banting enrolls in medicine at the University of Toronto.

February 28, 1899
Charles Best born in West Pembroke, Maine.

‘Fad’ diabetes diets include: the ‘oat-cure’ (in which the majority of diet was made up of oatmeal), the milk diet, the rice cure, ‘potato therapy’ and even the use of opium!

German scientist, Georg Zuelzer develops the first injectible pancreatic extract to suppress glycosuria; however, there are extreme side effects to the treatment.

Frederick Madison Allen and Elliot P. Joslin emerge as the two leading diabetes specialists in the United States. Joslin believes diabetes to be ‘the best of the chronic diseases’ because it was ‘clean, seldom unsightly, not contagious, often painless and susceptible to treatment.’

c. 1913
Allen, after three years of diabetes study, publishes Studies Concerning Glycosuria and Diabetes, a book which is significant for the revolution in diabetes therapy that developed from it.

Frederick Allen publishes Total Dietary Regulation in the Treatment of Diabetes, citing exhaustive case records of 76 of the 100 diabetes patients he observed, becomes the director of diabetes research at the Rockefeller Institute.

Allen establishes the first treatment clinic in the USA, the Physiatric Institute in New Jersey, to treat patients with diabetes, high blood pressure and Bright’s disease; wealthy and desperate patients flock to it.

July 1, 1920
Dr. Banting opens his first office in London, Ontario. He receives his first patient on July 29th; his total earnings for his first month of work is .00.

October 31, 1920
Dr. Banting conceives of the idea of insulin after reading Moses Barron’s ‘The Relation of the Islets of Langerhans to Diabetes with Special Reference to Cases of Pancreatic Lithiasis’ in the November issue of Surgery, Gynecology and Obstetrics. For the next year, with the assistance of Best, Collip and Macleod, Dr. Banting continues his research using a variety of different extracts on de-pancreatized dogs.

Summer 1921
Insulin is ‘discovered’. A de-pancreatized dog is successfully treated with insulin.

December 30, 1921
Dr. Banting presents a paper entitled ‘The Beneficial Influences of Certain Pancreatic Extracts on Pancreatic Diabetes’, summarizing his work to this point at a session of the American Physiological Society at Yale University. Among the attendees are Allen and Joslin. Little praise or congratulation is received.

January 23, 1922
One of Dr. Collip’s insulin extracts first tested on a human being, a 14-year-old boy named Leonard Thompson, in Toronto; treatment considered a success by the end of the following February.

May 30, 1922
Eli Lilly and Company and the University of Toronto enter a deal for the mass production of insulin in North America.

October 25 1923
Dr. Banting and his colleague Prof. Macleod are awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Dr. Banting shares his award with Best; Prof. Macleod shares his award with Dr. Collip

Dr. Banting is knighted, becoming Sir Frederick Banting.

Link is made between diabetes and long-term complications (kidney and eye disease).

On February 21, Sir Frederick Banting is killed in an airplane crash over Newfoundland while en route to England.

Standard insulin syringe is developed, helping to make diabetes management more uniform.

Dr. Best co-founds a diabetes association under the name Diabetic Association of Ontario. It later becomes known as the Canadian Diabetes Association.

Diabetes Education Centres (DEC) start to open across Canada.

Canadian Diabetes Association is formally established.
Nova Scotia and Alberta establish provincial diabetes organizations.
Camp Banting, Canada’s first camp for children with diabetes was opened
Oral drugs are introduced to help lower blood glucose levels.

Two major types of diabetes are recognized: type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes and type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes.

The purity of insulin is improved. Home testing for sugar levels in urine increases level of control for people with diabetes.

First pancreas transplant performed at the University of Manitoba.

Blood glucose meters and insulin pumps are developed.
Laser therapy is used to help slow or prevent blindness in some people with diabetes.

First biosynthetic human insulin is introduced.

Insulin pen delivery system is introduced

Opening of the Banting Museum and Education Centre in London, Ontario; Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother lights the Flame of Hope.

Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) report is published. The DCCT results clearly demonstrate that intensive therapy (more frequent doses and self-adjustment according to individual activity and eating patterns) delays the onset and progression of long-term complications in individuals with type 1 diabetes.

75th Anniversary of the discovery of insulin celebrated around the world.

The United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS) is published. UKPDS results clearly identify the importance of good glucose control and good blood pressure control in the delay and/or prevention of complications in type 2 diabetes.

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