On the 11th January 1922, the first ever injection of insulin was administered at Toronto General Hospital. Frederick Banting and Charles Best conducted their first clinical tests on a severely diabetic 14 year old boy, Leonard Thompson, who was essentially being kept alive by starvation and ketosis.
Although the initial injection on 11th January failed to have notably beneficial effects, Banting and Best continued to experiment and further purify the extract. On 23rd January at 11am, Leonard received an injection, a second dose that evening and two additional injections the following day; his blood glucose became normal and ketones disappeared. By the end of 1922, insulin was being produced commercially in the USA and patients with diabetes who received insulin injections recovered from comas, resumed eating a moderate portion of carbohydrates and had been given a new lease of life.
Over the past 100 years, diabetes research continues to improve the lives of millions of people with diabetes around the world. At the 2021 National Diabetes Integrated Care Conference, Dr Kate Gajweska, Clinical Manager for Advocacy and Research at Diabetes Ireland discussed 100 Years of Insulin, including how diabetes went from a ‘fatal’ to a ‘chronic’ condition, the progress that has been made in care and treatment, and the continued search for a cure. Watch Dr. Gajweska’s presentation below.