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February 6, 1967


JAMA. 1967;199(6):418-419. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03120060116024

When Langerhans discovered the pancreatic islets, he did not suspect that they were the center of a vast empire, nor did Opie when he demonstrated their relation to diabetes. Even Banting did not perceive the full dimensions of their sphere of influence. The Cumulative Index Medicus now lists more publications devoted to insulin than to any other hormone.

An empire is held together by the energy of its rulers and the efficiency of its communication system. Some historians ascribe the fall of imperial Rome as much to collapse of communication caused by a papyrus shortage as to waning luxury-sapped energies of its ruling class. The metaphoric empire of insulin is also dependent on energy and communication.

If the energetics of insulin action is better known than its communication aspect, it is mainly because knowledge of cybernetic mechanisms, genetic coding, molecular organization as well as of other conceptual and technical facets