Saturday, April 9, 2011

Hope for a cure

If I had to think of 3 words to describe my youngest son (and my type 1) I would say-




There are other bloggers who describe their type 1 children as sweet, and even include it in the title of their blogs.  My Reuben is...well... sweet.   Hes just a precious little boy.   My other kids, I describe as energetic, cute, entertainers, loud, quick witted, funny, caring, sensitive, smart, inquisitive.

But there it is. Reubs is sweet in more ways than one.  Stick with me , this blog IS going somewhere.

Recently I read how a blogger whom I love reading was talking with her daughter about a cure.   I beleive in a cure and I suggested she be encouraged by reading about the discovery of insulin.   To encourage MYSELF thats exactly what I went and did.   And I tell you what- I think its about time for a cure! This generation has seen so much in the way of technology - we may see a cure in our lifetimes.   

The story of insulin excites me however.   Heres some quick history on diabetes and insulin (and it wont be terribly historical or scientific-y thats just not how I am) - *refs at bottom

Ages ago the Greek wrote about diabetes, they were clued in.   The word we use now, diabetes, came from the Greek, and related to people wee-ing alot.   This is still one of the most recognisable symptoms.  586 years ago, Diabetes is first recorded in English, in the form diabete, in a medical text.   (Written around 1425.)
250 years after that, the word mellitus was added.  Came from the Latin, meaning "honey", a reference to the sweet taste of the urine.   Lots of years of focus on urine, for sure.    Ancient Greeks, Chinese, Egyptians, Indians, and Persians all noted this. In 1776 Matthew Dobson, confirmed that the sweet taste was because of an excess of a kind of sugar in the urine and blood of people with diabetes.  Indians had tested for diabetes by seeing if ants were attracted to the urine and called it 'sweet urine disease'.   I read once that a mother noticed her childs urine on a cement path  (before diagnosis) had dried out in the sunshine and left a 'substance' probably sugar... 

In ancient eras Diabetes was regarded a death sentence. Hippocrates didnt even mention it - he mustve felt the disease was incurable. Aretaeus did attempt to treat it but could not give a good prognosis; he commented that "life (with diabetes) is short, disgusting and painful."   Frick...

:(   This makes me immensely sad when I think about Reuben being born in a different generation and what his prognosis wouldve been.   For all the diabetics in the world, through the ages.   Immensely sad.  But the story gets better.

Some scientists named Mering and Minkowski found out that dogs with pancreas removed developed all the signs of diabetes and died shortly afterwards -   (this was in 1889.) They were credited with discovering the role of the pancreas.  

Now into the 1900's.   

In 1910, it was suggested that people with diabetes were deficient in a single chemical that was normally produced by the pancreas and  called this substance insulin.


1921, WHAT A YEAR!   when Canadian Sir Frederick Banting - (Did you know we celebrate WORLD DIABETES DAY, NOV 14th on HIS BIRTHDAY?)   and Charles Best  demonstrated they could reverse induced diabetes in dogs by giving them an extract [from the pancreatic islets of Langerhans of healthy dogs].   Banting, Best, and colleagues (especially the chemist Collip) went on to purify the hormone insulin from bovine pancreases at the Uni of Toronto.

Enter insulin injections....!

1922.   THIS IS EXCITING.  The insulin was tested on Leonard Thompson.  He was a 14-year-old diabetes patient who lay dying at the Toronto General Hospital. He was given an insulin injection. At first he suffered a severe allergic reaction (eek) and further injections were cancelled. The scientists worked hard on improving the extract (for 12 days Collip worked) and then a second dose of injections were administered on Thompson.

The results were spectacular!

The scientists went to the other wards with diabetic children, most of them comatose and dying from diabetic keto-acidosis

 They went from bed-to-bed and injected them with the new purified extract - insulin. This is known as one of medicines most dramatic moments. Before injecting the last comatose children, the first started to awaken from their comas. A joyous moment for family members and hospital staff!!
Both Banting and MacLeod got a Nobel Prize in 1923.  They shared their Prize money with others who werent recognised.  They made the patent available without charge and did not attempt to control commercial production. 

For this I am grateful.

Basically insulin was made and therapy spread rapidly around the world because of their decision.

Hallelujah.   Im grateful that my son has a chance to live because of these men and their work.   

The thing that gets me, and makes me hopeful is that theres people working on a cure, just like these men, right now.    They understand alot more.   Their tools are better. Technology is better.  Things are moving along rapidly.  

Lots of mice are working on the cure also.  (!)

For our sweet kids.


  1. to me these are the hopeful parts, the knowledge that nobody is really giving up - we live day to day feeling a sense of uncomfortableness with diabetes but these scientist see the big picture that their findings together one day will lead to a cure. I believe. I know I do. I know many many years ago insulin was "the cure" but now that scientist know what they know there is just so much more that can be done. I still never tire of hearing how things have progressed and love the men and women working so diligently in all the different aspects of finding a cure for our children and my husband. I am excited for that day!

  2. Great post! Vince has said more than once "well if I was alive 'back then' I would have died right away" that is so sad!!!!!!! I hope a cure is in our future or for the very least in our kids' future.

  3. Very hopeful and very fitting as I head up the JDRF Kick-Off Luncheon in Vermont tomorrow...thank you for are getting me in the mood!!! xoxo

  4. Great post and a wonderful reminder to keep our eyes on the bigger picture. It is so easy to get mired down in the day-to-day stuff of this disease and you forget that there is hope. Thank you

  5. Lovely post! I live 2 blocks down the street from Bantings home believe it or not, lol. If you look out my front window you can see the flame of hope at Banting house that burns all the time, I remember it burning for almost 20 years now and here we are with a diabetic kid. I used to go and take pictures of the flame when i was a teenager doing photography for school I though it was the coolest thing cause it never went out no matter the weather. And now all I wish for is to see that light go out...they said that the flame will burn until a cure is found. It's strange how that all worked out for me and how much time I actually spent at that place as a young adult, fascinated by the statue of Banting and the flame of hope....

  6. I just stumbled upon your blog and know I will be an avid follower. My 20-month old son Reid was diagnosed 3 weeks ago with Type 1. Ug!

    The shock is beginning to wear off and now I find myself settling into the reality of this disease and how constant it is. I look forward to reading your blog and getting to "know" you and your family better.

    Hugs from,
    Kelly in Tampa, FL

  7. Hi Kelly! Im glad you found me. How are things going? Im sorry to hear about your beautiful sons diagnosis. Its not really a community you w a n t to join, but the diabetes online community is really a Godsend, so many wonderful supportive people. There are a number of people Ive met with children diagnosed young like ours they are a wealth of knowledge,I have alot of links to great blogs included on mine. Feel free to email or add me to facebook anytime xx.