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November 1974


Author Affiliations

Department of Pediatrics University of Maryland School of Medicine 22 S Greene St Baltimore, MD 21201

Am J Dis Child. 1974;128(5):610-612. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1974.02110300020003

In the second century, Aretaeus named a condition characterized by thirst, polyuria, and "a liquefaction of the flesh and bones into urine, diabetes." Thomas Willis in the 17th century noted the sweet taste of the urine and added "mellitus." Gradually the pancreas became incriminated as the ailing organ in human diabetes mellitus. Pancreatectomized animals were found to develop the features of diabetes. By 1920, Starling suggested that the pancreas elaborated a hormone that enabled the tissues to use sugar and the liver to inhibit sugar production. On July 30, 1921, Banting and Best (a medical student) gave a saline extract of pancreas intravenously to a diabetic dog and recorded a fall in the blood glucose level. Acid-ethanol extracts of beef pancreas proved potent in dogs, and on Jan 11, 1922, a 14-year-old diabetic boy became the first patient to be given insulin.1 Since then, the life expectancy of the insulin-dependent diabetic

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