Thinking Citizen Blog — Diabetes Heroes: Banting, Best, Collip, Hagedorn, Krogh
Thinking Citizen Blog — Thursday is Health, Health Care, and Global Health Policy Day
Today’s Topic: Diabetes Heroes: Banting, Best, Collip, Hagedorn, Krogh
Who are the most forgotten and under-appreciated medical heroes of history? I decided to start a series on this theme last week when I learned about Maurice Hilleman. His vaccines basically save about 7 million lives per year, but I had never heard of him. So I asked myself, what are other big medical advances that have no heroic names attached to them. And, randomly, Type 1 diabetes popped into my head. This disease was fatal until insulin-therapy was developed in the 1920s. Who are the forgotten heroes of this story? Today, what I have learned so far. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
TORONTO SURGEON (BANTING), MEDICAL STUDENT (BEST) DISCOVER INSULIN IN 1921
1. “Banting and Best successfully isolated insulin from dogs, produced diabetes symptoms in the animals, and then provided insulin injections that produced normal blood glucose levels.”
2. “Plans were quickly underway for an insulin treatment for people. Next, they extracted insulin from the pancreases of cattle from slaughterhouses.”
3. “On January 11, 1922, 14 -year-old Leonard Thompson became the first person to receive an insulin injection as treatment for diabetes.”
NB: “The first caused an allergic reaction. A refined process was quickly developed to improve the cow pancreas from which the insulin was derived, and Thompson’s second dosage was successfully delivered twelve days later on January 23. The teenager’s condition improved dramatically. Diabetes, which had been regarded as a fatal disease, could finally be managed!”
BANTING AND MACLEOD (HEAD OF THE LAB) SHARE 1923 NOBEL PRIZE
1. Banting was 32 years old. He remains the youngest winner of a Nobel Prize in Medicine/Physiology ever.
2. “Banting split his half of the Prize money with Best, and Macleod split the other half of the Prize money with James Collip.” Collip was a biochemist who provided critical assistance in extracting a pancreatic extract pure enough to be functional.
3. “Banting, Best and Collip subsequently shared the patent for insulin, which they sold to the University of Toronto for one dollar.”
AUGUST HAGEDORN, ARTHUR AND MARIE KROGH, AND THE DANISH COMPANY NOVO NORDISK
1. Mass production of insulin was made possible by the formation of the Novo Nordisk company in Denmark by Arthur Krogh and August Hagedorn.
2. August Krogh (above) was a pioneer in comparative physiology who had won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1920. His wife, Marie was a physician, who suffered from Type 2 diabetes and had many patients with Type 1 diabetes.
3. Initially production of insulin was by “ethanol extraction from the pancreatic glands of pigs.”
NB: In the 1930s Hagedorn figured out that the addition of protamine, a protein isolated from the sperm of river trout, would make the insulin longer lasting. This is called NPH (neutral protamine Hagedorn) insulin. “Eventually all animal insulins made by Novo Nordisk were replaced by synthetic, recombinant ‘human’ insulin.
In the Economics post of 11/30/21 I discussed the work of Harvard Professor Doug Melton on developing a cure for Type 1 diabetes.
For the last four years of posts organized by theme:
Please share the most interesting thing you learned in the last week related to health, health care or health care policy — the ethics, economics, politics, history…. Or the coolest, most important thing you learned in your life related to health are or health care policy that the rest of us may have missed. Or just some random health-related fact that blew you away.
This is your chance to make some one’s day. Or to cement in your mind something really important you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than you otherwise would about something that matters.