Invention Of Insulin Essay

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30, 1920, but he was kept awake by worries over his debts.

An idea, prompted by the medical article, came to him and he jotted it down.

However, the duct that carried the pancreatic secretions off to the body could be severed, but there would be no diabetes.

In fact, the whole pancreas could be transplanted within the animal, and if only a small part was retained, there would be no diabetes.

Later, he abandoned that plan and made extracts of degenerated pancreas instead.

Nor was Banting so single-minded in his pursuit of the scientific discovery of insulin as he has been portrayed.Later it was realized that structures in the pancreas called the Islets of Langerhans were involved, and that their secretion, if any, must pass directly into the blood instead of through the pancreatic duct.According to Banting's own story, as he later told it, he was trying to read himself to sleep with a medical article about the pancreas on Oct.But with the death of the last principal in 1978, historical research could begin without impediment.Professor Bliss's account, '' The Discovery of Insulin,'' to be published this month in Canada by Mc Clelland & Stewart, and next month in this country by the University of Chicago Press, shows to an extent previously unmatched the full dimensions of the feuding and bickering, the jockeying for position and reward, the personal flaws and weaknesses, as well as strengths, of the all-too-human researchers whose achievement did so much for so many. Macleod, one of the two men who shared a Nobel Prize for insulin in 1923, once said: '' If every discovery entails as much squabbling over priority, etc., as this one has, it will put the job of trying to make them out of fashion.'' To the public who read the newspapers in the 1920's, and to their successors who learned the story from Paul De Kruif's book, '' Men Against Death,'' or from other popular accounts, the discovery of insulin was made in just one summer, that of 1921, by two inexperienced country scientists, Frederick Banting, a 30-year-old surgeon who unlocked the critical puzzle of insulin with an inspired idea he conceived just upon falling asleep, and Charles Best, a 22-year-old college graduate who had not yet entered medical school and who did the chemistry.Macleod had spent the summer of 1921 vacationing in his native Scotland and returned, the story goes, to find that his assistants had discovered insulin.The Nobel award to Macleod, therefore, was so surprising and controversial that Banting, to give credit where it was due, publicly divided his half of the money with Best.According to accounts written much later, Macleod refused at first, then apparently relented. Macleod had become the quarterback of the team, turning the entire laboratory over to the search for insulin. But Best opposed it, as he later said, ''for obvious and selfish reasons.'' However, Banting persuaded Best to relent. But Banting thought Macleod was stealing credit by speaking in the first person plural. Once the team was satisfied that it had found something that effectively lowered the blood sugar of diabetic animals, the problem was to purify it for human use. Banting, obsessed with fears that Macleod and Collip were taking over the project and would deny him the credit, grabbed Collip, a much smaller man; according to Best, '' Collip was fortunate not to be seriously hurt.'' He continued, '' I can remember restraining Banting with all the force at my command.'' The first human trial was done in December 1921, not on Leonard Thompson but on Dr. An injection of extract prepared by Banting and Best failed, but a second, using Collip's extract, succeeded.It was clear that the two young investigators needed help. The researchers' first scientific report was given at a meeting in New Haven in December 1921. Then, incredibly, Collip, a laboratory wizard with an instinctive skill at freehand chemistry, found he could no longer make the extract!The discovery of insulin at the University of Toronto 60 years ago ranks with the greatest moments in the history of medicine.For the first time, diabetic men and women, many of whom were until then doomed to an ineffectual starvation diet followed by coma and death within a year or two, were offered a treatment that restored them, sometimes in just a few weeks, to rosy-cheeked health.


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