First successful test on human with diabetes

It was on this day in 1922 that the first successful test on a human patient with diabetes occurred when a second dose of insulin is administered to dangerously ill Leonard Thompson.

Following the birth of an idea and nine months of experimentation, and through the combined efforts of four men at the University of Toronto; insulin for the treatment of diabetes was first discovered and later purified for human use.

Rural Canadian physician Dr. F.G. Banting first conceived the idea of extracting insulin from the pancreas in 1920. He and his assistant C.H. Best prepared pancreatic extracts to prolong the lives of diabetic dogs with advice and laboratory aid from Professor J.J.R. Macleod. The crude insulin extract was purified for human testing by Dr. J.B. Collip.

Insulin, now made from cattle pancreases, lifted the death sentence for diabetes sufferers around the world.

Banting was honoured by Canada Post in 2000 as one of the subjects of the millennium collection of stamps. The 46-cent commemorative depicts Banting and one of the ‘diabetic’ dogs, along with a hypodermic needle, representing the insulin that has gone on to save millions from death since its discovery 90-plus years ago.


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