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Whittington Health NHSUCL

Historic news

Some news makes a big impact and is always worth remembering. The stories below include landmark moments in the history of diabetes. They help us to remember how far we have come over the last century. The list will grow as more news becomes 'old news' and helps shape the care you receive.

We still have a lot to learn about diabetes, and as the knowledge increases, we hope that you will see the benefits in your day-to-day life. 

World Diabetes Day: 14th of November

World diabetes day logoWorld Diabetes Day was introduced in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organisation in response to the increasing numbers of people with the condition worldwide.

The day marks the birthday of Frederick Banting, who was involved in the discovery of insulin in 1922 together with Charles Best.

Multiple genes involved in type 2 diabetes: 2007

In 2007, a UK-based study of the genes involved in type 2 diabetes was published in the journal 'Science'. It identified three genes not previously known to be involved and confirmed data about two previously identified genes. This supports the idea that multiple genes may be involved in type 2 diabetes.

The study was funded by the Wellcome Trust and led by researchers at the University of Oxford and the Peninsula Medical school in Exeter.

It included 6,000 people with type 2 diabetes and 8,000 controls.

The exact role of the genes identified is still uncertain.

Better control of blood glucose levels & blood pressure is protective: UKPDS study

UKPDS (UK Prospective Diabetes Study) was a randomised control trial set up in 1977. The original trial ran for 20 years and was one of the first trials to show that treating type 2 diabetes really is worthwhile. Over 5,000 patients were enrolled across 23 UK sites.

Its aims were to establish whether reducing blood glucose levels and maintaining good blood pressure control actually protect people with type 2 diabetes from having complications.

The initial trial showed that improving blood glucose levels reduced the microvascular complication rate. This means that people with lower blood glucose levels had a lower risk of eye and kidney problems, for example.

Reducing blood pressure levels helped reduce the risk of microvascular but also macrovascular complications such as stroke.

Recombinant human insulin is licensed by federal drug association in USA: 1982

Diabetes care was revolutionised when it first became possible to artificially create in the laboratory different versions of insulin with unique properties. Making recombinant human insulin generally involves making small changes to the DNA code for insulin and then producing large amounts of insulin using a bacterial.

The first recombinant human insulin 'Humulin' was approved by the Food and Drug Association (FDA) in the USA in 1982. From this point on, it was possible to tailor-make different variants of human-like insulin with different speeds of onset and different practical uses.

This landmark step also led to further developments in other fields of medicine; for instance, facilitating the development of new thyroid- and cancer-related treatments.

Insulin first given to a boy with diabetes: 1922

In 1921, Frederick Banting and Charles Best extracted the hormone insulin from the pancreas of dogs.

In 1922 they administered the extract to a 14-year-old boy suffering from type 1 diabetes mellitus, with positive effect.