THE DISCOVERY OF INSULIN
The scientific discovery of insulin has changed the entire world and has given hope to all diabetic patients. Before insulin was discovered, people with diabetics ended up dying but now with the availability of insulin, diabetic patients live a normal life.
However, during the nineteenth century, observations carried on death patients proved that they had a damaged pancreas. So in 1869, Paul Langerhans a medical student found out that there were groups of cells within the pancreatic tissue but their main functions were unknown. Further analysis proved that some of the cells were insulin-producing beta cells. These cells were named as islets of Langerhans. (Ainsberg, 2010)
In 1889, two physiologists Oskar Minkowski and Joseph Von Mering also proved that when the pancreas is removed from a dog it gets diabetes but if the duct through which the pancreatic juice flow to the intestine was surgically tied off to prevent the juice from reaching the intestine, it nourished. This would lead to the pancreas losing its functionality. By doing so, the cells that were known of producing anti diabetic secretion could be separated from pancreas. (Bliss, 2007)
In 1920, Banting after reading an article about the pancreas came to the idea of an experimental procedure. This idea was to tie the pancreatic ducts in order to isolate an internal secretion. He took his idea to Professor Macleod of the University of Toronto. In 1921, Dr. Banting was given a laboratory and dogs as well as a laboratory assistant (Best) to prove his idea. (The discoverer, 1932)
They started the experiment by taking out the pancreas from a dog. After the pancreas was taken out from the first dog, its glucose level rose, it drank a lot of water and excreted it through urine and it became weaker as well. The second experiment was carried out on another dog but with this dog, its pancreas was tied to prevent nourishment which resulted in it being degenerated. After a while the pancreas was sliced and froze in a mixture of water and salt. When they were half frozen, they were grounded and filtered. The substance which was isolated was named Isletin. The extract was then injected into the diabetic dog. Immediately, its sugar level dropped and it seemed healthier and developed slight digestive problems but not diabetes. So they came to the conclusion that, the pancreas has two main functions; that is to produce pancreatic juice and to produce a substance that can regulate the glucose level. (Tattersall, 2009)
However, more evidence was needed as well as more organs. They started using cattle pancreases. With this large supply, they increased the production of the extract to keep many diabetic dogs alive. At this stage they were able to convince Macleod; the professor who gave them the laboratory and dogs to start their experiment so he gave them enough fund and a better laboratory. Aside that, he suggested that, the name of the extract should be called “Insulin”....