I Hate When I Forget: Banting’s discovery of Insulin is 100 years old

You’d thnk something this important would be remembered.  I’m mildly annoyed at myself because I mentioned it previously.

Frederick Banting announced the discovery of Insulin to the world on November 14, 1921.  And it was first administered to 14 year old Leonard Thompson on January 11, 1922.  While Thompson only lived until 1935 (age 27), that’s more life than he would have gotten without Banting’s discovery.  Prior to that, Type 1 diabetes was a short and painful death sentence, surviving only a few weeks or months.

Knowing how important the discovery was, Banting forewent the patent and gave his discovery to the world for free.  He wanted to save lives, not profit from it, which makes the US medical industry all the more deplorable for holding people’s lives hostage with excessive prices.

Insulin was the first hormone therapy, something commonplace today, especially important to Transgender, Non-Binary, and Intersex people.  The discovery of Insulin earned Banting and his team the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1923, the shortest time ever between a scientific discovery and awarding of a Nobel prize.






  1. Bruce says

    It’s amazing to think that the first hormone therapy treatment was 100 years ago this week. And back then, they didn’t even have a way to know the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Of course, while insulin is still vital for type 1 diabetics, most diabetics today are type 2, which can now (as before) be treated by a diet restricting carbohydrates, which allows a gradual decrease of insulin use, sometimes eliminating it entirely. It points out the power of hormone therapies, and how anyone starting a new hormone therapy treatment needs medical monitoring of side effects. Other medications may need to be adjusted or eliminated, by someone with training. Every civilized country should provide free medical care, including hormone therapies as needed. As with any other condition triggered by society’s presumptions of normality, those suffering from the effects of carbohydrate overdose or gender stereotypes should be seen as innocent victims needing therapy and support without judgment. Nobody knew that carbs could trigger disease, so it makes no sense for society to imply guilt to those who need therapy.

  2. Ice Swimmer says

    It was a discovery that not only was a big breakthrough but on a less important level, is one of the reason I exist. My late dad got type 1 diabetes as a kid. He wouldn’t have lived to meet my mom and fall in love.

    It is also quite lucky that pig and cow insulin were close enough to human insulin to be usable. They were used at least until the 1980s, before the biotech production process for “human” insulin was developed.

    The monitoring thing is a big one with insulin as it’s quite a potent (and dangerous) hormone and it’s amazing what’s been done in the last 40 years. Dad used to have these strips, on which you dropped some blood and waited for a set time before wiping it off and comparing the colours with the ones on the side of the can. Now my friend, who also has type 1, has a sensor on his arm and he reads it with his phone.