04 May, 2010

History Of Diabetes

The term diabetes was coined by Aretaeus of Cappadocia.
Thomas Willis added the word mellitus, from the Latin meaning "honey"

In 1776, Matthew Dobson confirmed that the sweet taste was because of an excess of a kind of sugar in the urine and blood of people with diabetes.

Diabetes mellitus appears to have been a death sentence in the ancient era.
Sushruta (6th century BCE) identified diabetes and classified it as Madhumeha. He further identified it with obesity and sedentary lifestyle,
The ancient Indians tested for diabetes by observing whether ants were attracted to a person's urine, and called the ailment "sweet urine disease" (Madhumeha).
Avicenna (980–1037) provided a detailed account on diabetes mellitus in The Canon of Medicine, "describing the abnormal appetite and the collapse of sexual functions," and he documented the sweet taste of diabetic urine.
He also described diabetic gangrene, and treated diabetes using a mixture of lupine, trigonella (fenugreek), and zedoary seed, which produces a considerable reduction in the excretion of sugar, a treatment which is still prescribed in modern times. Avicenna also "described diabetes insipidus very precisely for the first time",
Johann Peter Frank (1745–1821) who first differentiated between diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus.

The discovery of a role for the pancreas in diabetes is generally ascribed to Joseph von Mering and Oskar Minkowski, who in 1889 found that dogs whose pancreas was removed developed all the signs and symptoms of diabetes and died shortly afterwards.

In 1910, Sir Edward Albert Sharpey-Schafer suggested that people with diabetes were deficient in a single chemical that was normally produced by the pancreas—he proposed calling this substance insulin, from the Latin insula, meaning island, in reference to the insulin-producing islets of Langerhans in the pancreas.

The endocrine role of the pancreas in metabolism, and the existence of insulin, was further clarified in 1921, by Sir Frederick Grant Banting and Charles Herbert Best Banting, Best, and colleagues (especially the chemist Collip) went on to purify the hormone insulin from bovine pancreases.

Banting is honored by World Diabetes Day which is held on his birthday, November 14.

The distinction between what is now known as type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes was first clearly made by Sir Harold Percival (Harry) Himsworth, and published in January 1936.
Identification of the first of the sulfonylureas in 1942

Use of biguanides for Type 2 diabetes in the late 1950s.
The initial phenformin was withdrawn worldwide (in the U.S. in 1977) due to its potential for sometimes fatal lactic acidosis.

Metformin was first marketed in France in 1979, but not until 1994 in the US.

The determination of the amino acid sequence of insulin by Sir Frederick Sanger, for which he received a Nobel Prize)

The radioimmunoassay for insulin, as discovered by Rosalyn Yalow and Solomon Berson
Dr Gerald Reaven's identification of the constellation of symptoms now called metabolic syndrome in 1988
Identification of the first thiazolidinedione as an effective insulin sensitizer during the 1990s
In 1980, U.S. biotech company Genentech developed human insulin. The insulin is isolated from genetically altered bacteria (the bacteria contain the human gene for synthesizing human insulin), which produce large quantities of insulin.


  1. This is an interesting piece of information. Not everyone knows it.Thanks.


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