The importance of insulin on anniversary of its first success


It was on 23rd January 1922 that a 14 year old Canadian, Leonard Thompson, became the first diabetic to be successfully treated with insulin. 

Before this medical breakthrough those with Type 1 diabetes would normally only live a few months and the only treatment was a virtual starvation diet.

Thompson himself weighed only 65lbs before successful treatment with insulin however after this, he went on to live into adulthood. 

Insulin treatment has saved the lives of millions of people since that successful injection and is seem as one of the major medical breakthroughs of the last century. 

Scotland was to play its part in this breakthrough when, along with Canadian born Dr Fredrick Banting, Scot Dr JJR Macleod won the 1923 Nobel Prize in Medicine for their work in the discovery of insulin. 

Macleod trained in medicine at the University of Aberdeen and went on to become Regius Professor of Physiology there. The auditorium of the Medical Science Building at University of Toronto is named after him and Diabetes UK named its offices in London in honour of him too.

In 1934 novelist HG Wells and his practitioner Dr RD Lawrence, both of whom had diabetes, set up the Diabetic Association aiming to make sure that everyone in the UK could gain access to insulin.

The charity called for a national health service and stressed the importance of self-management of diabetes, given that the condition was life-long.  This charity later became Diabetes UK.