A voice for living well with Type 1 Diabetes

In 1920-1921, a Toronto laboratory dog’s pancreas was removed; a hormone from the displaced organ was isolated and then injected back into the dog.  The results were amazing … the symptoms of the dog’s diabetes went away within days of injections.  This hormone was named insulin.  In 1922, insulin from animals was purified enough to try on humans.  These results were as impressive as those in the dog.

Prior to insulin, people diagnosed with diabetes had a bleak future:  starvation diets followed by coma and death.  This happened in months.  Simply put … a diagnosis of diabetes was a death sentence.

After 1922, insulin provided those diagnosed with diabetes a lifeline – a way of extending our lives.  It allowed some – including me – to experience lives much longer and more productive than those diagnosed before its’ discovery and deployment.

I was diagnosed in 1963, some 40 years after insulin was discovered and made available for treatment.  In those 40 years, advances were made to delay and extend insulin duration. Since my diagnosis, advances have included bio-genetically engineered human insulin and designer insulins that altered protein structures, resulting in faster acting insulin.

I am absolutely humbled by the good fortune I had to be diagnosed when insulin was available to treat diabetes.  Without it, I would not have been alive to attend kindergarten or live the life I’ve known.  Faster acting insulin developed in the 1990s absolutely improved my quality of life.

I am grateful to the medical research team in Toronto, Canada that so expertly hypothesized, isolated and purified the pancreatic hormone called insulin.  I also believe and appreciate the previous generations of medical researchers that studied diabetes.  Their time and thought provided an increasing level of knowledge that enabled the miracle discovery of insulin.

Finally, I also appreciate the companies that took risk to develop insulin and make it commercially available.  Discovery is one thing … making it available is another.  The total market for insulin is small compared to other pharmaceutical opportunities.  Only with these company’s investment and commitment, do I have access to my lifeline.