How has Insulin Therapy Changed Over the Past 100 Years?

We’ve been striving for techniques to make life more convenient since the dawn of creation. The contemporary era has brought us some incredible technological advancements. The discovery of insulin, which rates among the crowning accomplishments in medical history, is 100-year-old in 2021. The invention of insulin in Toronto in 1921, which garnered a Nobel Prize in 1923, laid the groundwork for the next 100 years.

Thanks to studies undertaken in Toronto and subsequent advancements in diabetes management, millions of people have prospered with the disease. When academic science encounters translational biotechnology, the story of insulin production is a fascinating example of what may be accomplished in medicine.

The term diabetes mellitus refers to a collection of metabolic illnesses characterized by chronic hyperglycemia caused by a lack of insulin production, insulin action, or both. The relevance of insulin as an anabolic hormone causes metabolic irregularities in carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins.

In the Middle East and North Africa, adult diabetes incidence is the highest, about 10.9 percent. In contrast, the Western Pacific zone has the maximum number of individuals with diabetes, and the countries with the most diabetes occurrence are about 37.5 percent. Diabetes affects 422 million people worldwide, up from 108 million in 1980. Low- and intermediate countries have seen a faster rise in incidence than high-income ones.

Before the invention of insulin, how was diabetes treated?

Before insulin, diabetes therapy was highly complex. Diabetic patients didn’t live long before insulin was discovered in 1921, and there weren’t many doctors who could help them. The most beneficial regimen was to place patients on very stringent carbohydrate-restricted diets. People who were put on stringent carbohydrate-restricted diets for the first year or two of their lives. They may buy patients a few more years, but it will not save them. Patients have died of malnutrition as a result of strict diets.

Insulin from calves and pigs was used to cure illness for many years and saved countless lives, but it wasn’t flawless, as many individuals developed allergic reactions. In 1978, E. coli bacteria were used to manufacture the first genetically modified synthetic human insulin.

Until the mid-1970s, glass syringes and steel needles were the typical injection equipment, as was swabbing injection sites with an industrial spirit. Needleless injectors, such as guns or jet injectors, were developed with some pharmacokinetic benefits but were no less challenging or uncomfortable to use than syringes.

Insulin now exists in various forms, ranging from regular human insulin to ultra-rapid and ultra-long-acting insulins, all of which are identical to what the body generates naturally. Insulin has made great strides from Humalog to Novolog and insulin pens to insulin pumps. Although it isn’t a permanent cure, it is a lifesaver.

Insulin Therapy from 1970s to Present

The customized fixed-needle, low-dead-space, disposable plastic insulin syringe with its more refined, shorter, the sharper needle significantly improved in the late 1970s. It was also better suited to the early 1980s global standardization of 100 U/ml insulin. However, the barrel and needle were also the foundation of Ireland and Reith’s first insulin pen-injector, which they detailed in 1981. They said it had the opportunity to be developed as a cartridge-based device.

In 1975, utilizing a mini-pump to inject subcutaneous insulin was conceived. The significant advancements included eliminating insulin injections and the difficulties associated with basal insulins, such as irregular insulin uptake and morning hyperglycemia. People with diabetes can now use smartpens with digital technology to estimate doses and record their insulin usage.

As seen above, the advancement of insulin therapy has reaped a slew of outstanding scientific and engineering benefits. Insulin is without a doubt a medical marvel in the field of diabetes.


Navya Koshi

Navya Mariam Koshi is a diligent, self-motivated Pharm D graduate using this platform to leverage her skills in this field to provide excellent and exceptional health care services to the public.

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