Once Again About Insulin. Understanding Sugar Diabetes

Let me remind you a short story of insulin. Full story you can read here in the article “What Is Insulin?”

Sugar diabetes disease was known to humanity from ancient times, but no real progress in treatment was made until German physiologists Joseph vom Mering and Oskar Minkowski discovered in 1889 by accident that the pancreas was central to diabetes. That discovery was a pivotal point in sugar diabetes management and treatment. While studying digestion in a laboratory dog, two collegues removed the pancreas to sec the effect on digestion. The dog started urinating more often than usual and the doctors had good judgement to test the urine for sugar. True enough, the dog developed sugar diabetes without the pancreas.

Later, in 1893, another scientist, named Paul Langerhans, isolated cells in the pancreas that produced a hormone insulin. That cells are named the islets of Langerhans after the scientist who discovered them. But even with insulin producing cells isolated, doctors still didn’t understand insulin’s function. While you still alert a eager to read more, please do not resist the overwhelming urge to check out my carefully selected advertisements to the right. I will be happy to know that my articles are helpful.

The major breakthrough came in 1921, when a young surgeon Dr. Frederick Banting, together with his bright student, Charles Best, at the University of Toronto focused on the still unknown hormone produced in the islets of Langerhans. They isolated hormone and treated the dog with sugar diabetes with these isolated cells from another dog and succeded. But real success came after they treated first human patient with insulin injections. It was a 14-year-old boy dying of Type 1 sugar diabetes, his name Leonard Thompson. He was treated with great success and live to die at age 29 from pneumonia. Two years after their landmark discovery of insulin and its role in sugar diabetes, Dr. Banting and Professor J.J.R. MacLleod were awarded the Nobel Prize for their discovery.

Before 1983 all produced insulin for sugar diabetes treatment was produced using pigs and cows. Although pork insulin is still very much on the market, biosyntethic human insulin is now available. Human insulin is produced in a laboratory by bacterias or yeasts. In highly controlled environment, a synthetic human gene introduced into bacteria or yeasts, and insulin is produced with identical properties to human-produced insulin from the pancreas. Manufacturers can prepare insulins with different action times. This is very handy in intensive sugar diabetes management.

All manufactured insulin for sugar diabetes treatment is categorized into three groups: fast-acting insulin, intermediate-acting insulin and long-acting-insulin. Insulins are also described according to their course of action: “onset” is the time taken for the insulin to start working, “peak” describes the period when the insulin is working at its strongest and “duration” describes the length of time before the effect of the dose wears off.

Superfast insulin (Lispro) have onset of 5 to 10 minutes, peak in the first 2 hours and duration of 3 to 4 hour. Fast, or Regular insulin have onset of 30 minutes to 1 hour, peak in 2 to 4 hours and duration of 4 to 6 hours. Intermediate insulin (NPH or Lente) have onset time of 2 to 4 hours, peak in 6 to 12 hours and duration of 18 to 24 hours. Slow (Ultralente) insulin have onset time of 4 hours, almost no peak and duration of 20 to 30 hours.

In North America insulin is dispensed in a concentration of 100 units in 1 ml.

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