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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

January 11, 1922

Did you miss me?

Okay, so I've only been gone four days.  But I needed the time off after writing in this blog for 40 consecutive days.  And to think there was once a time where I wrote one of these a day for a whole year.  I think it's safe to say that those days are over.

This is the second of eight Wayback Wednesday entries, and I have to say that the subject that I have chosen to talk about today is a real life saver for millions of people all over the world.  And that will be your one and only clue as we kick off the news and events of January 11 throughout history.  Here we go!

1569 - The first record of a lottery takes place in England

1693 - Sicily and Malta are devastated by a powerful earthquake

1759 - The first life insurance company is incorporated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1787 - The two moons of Uranus - Oberon and Titania - are discovered by William Herschel

1843 - Francis Scott Key - composer of "The Star-Spangled Banner" dies at the age of 63

1861 - Alabama secedes from the United States

1908 - The Grand Canyon National Monument is created

1912 - Immigrant textile works in Lawrence, Massachusetts go on strike to protest the wage reduction as a result of the mandate to shorten work weeks

1917 - As a direct result of sabotage, the Kingsland munitions factory explodes

1927 - The creation of the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences is announced by Louis B. Meyer

1930 - Actor Rod Taylor (d. 2015) is born in Lidcombe, Australia

1935 - Amelia Earhart becomes the first person to fly from Hawaii to California solo

1942 - Saxophonist Clarence Clemmons (d. 2011) is born in Norfolk County, Virginia

1943 - Carlo Tresca is assassinated in New York City

1957 - The African Convention is founded in Dakar, Senegal

1973 - Major League Baseball owners vote to adopt the designated hitter position for American League baseball games

1996 - STS-72 launches from the Kennedy Space Center, marking the beginning of the 74th Space Shuttle Mission

2008 - Mountaineer Edmund Hillary dies at the age of 88

2014 - Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon dies at the age of 85

2016 - Actor David Margulies passes away at the age of 78

And blowing out birthday candles on their cakes today are the following famous faces; Alfonso Arau, Jean Chretien, Bud Acton, Naomi Judd, Tony Kaye, Daryl Braithwaite, Charlie Huhn, Diana Gabaldon, Lee Ritenour, Vicki Peterson, Brett Bodine, Rob Ramage, Tom Dumont, Mary J. Blige, Christian Jacobs, Amanda Peet, Rockmond Dunbar, Darren Lynn Bousman, and Cody Simpson.

All right, so what date are we going back in time to this week?  Last week, we only went back six years, so I'm hoping it's a more significant time jump.

Ah, now we're talking.  January 11, 1922.  That's almost a whole century ago! 

As it so happens, this date was one that was very important in the world of medicine.  People didn't know it at the time, but this date marked the first time that a particular treatment was used to battle a disease that millions of people suffer from.  And while in the 95 years since this treatment was first used there has not yet been a cure for this ailment, since the discovery of this treatment, people have lived much longer lives than those who lived prior to 1922.

Diabetes is a disease that many people have, and if left untreated, it can be fatal.  Fortunately, people have found a variety of ways to control their diabetes.  In some cases, depending on the type of diabetes you have, it can be maintained one of two ways.  Sometimes it can be as simple as popping a sugary candy in your mouth to keep from passing out due to low sugar levels.

But there's also those who require a shot of insulin to try and control their diabetes as well.  And would you believe that the idea of using insulin to treat diabetes was a fairly NEW concept?

The first time it was ever used was on this date 95 years ago at the Toronto General Hospital (side note: how cool is it that this treatment originated just a four hour drive away from where I live!)

The patient was a fourteen-year-old boy named Leonard Thompson.  And while the first dose was administered on January 11, 1922, it took some considerable time before the treatment was even approved.

After several years of medical research that originated in Europe by several different scientists, it wasn't until 1920 that Canadian scientist Frederick Banting and professor J.J.R Macleod actually came up with the method.  Banting had hypothesized that after reading research recorded by Nicolae Paulescu, he could use the natural internal secretion of the pancreas to extract the insulin which could then be used to stablilize sugar levels within a diabetic person's blood.  After approaching Macleod with his theory, Macleod allowed him use of his lab, as well as the help of lab student Charles Best.  Banting's method was to tie a ligature around the pancreatic duct, and over the course of weeks, the digestive cells of the pancreas would die and left behind were islets which were then extracted to produce insulin.  Beginning on July 27, 1921, Banting used the extract to test on dogs, and through the tests done by both Banting and Best, they successfully managed to keep one of the dogs alive the rest of the summer.

When they presented their findings to Macleod, he was intrigued, but felt that they needed better equipment to ensure success.  Another roadblock came up when it was discovered that the process in which to extract the islets would take up to six weeks, which was simply too long.  The idea was suggested to use fetal calf pancreas - which worked, and made the extraction process much quicker.  By the end of 1921, the team felt that enough research had been done to perform a clinical test.

And as we know, Leonard Thompson was the first patient.

Unfortunately, the dose that Thompson was initially given was impure, and Thompson sustained a very severe allergic reaction to the substance.  It would take another twelve days and more testing to be done before Banting would try administering another improved dose.  And not only was the second dose much more effective than the first, but it also eliminated the glycosuria sign of diabetes without any side effects.  As for Thompson, he would live for at least thirteen more years after taking insulin every day.

The discovery was revolutionary for the medical community in so many ways.  It earned both Banting and Macleod a Nobel Prize in 1923, and it was seen as an effective treatment for Type 1 Diabetes (which prior to 1922 was seen as a terminal illness).  In 1978, a synthetic composition of insulin was first manufactured - which is currently how it is made today.  I can't even begin to tell you how many lives have been saved because of the discovery that insulin could help diabetics live longer and more productive lives.  It's certainly a medical miracle in many ways.

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