Every New Year is a time of hope. As we stand on the cusp of 2021, we hope. We hope for a vaccine. We hope for new treatments for COVID-19. We hope that the herd immunity might bring an end to the pandemic. As far as Diabetes care is concerned too, 2021 is a year of hope and celebration. Exciting advances in glucose monitoring and Diabetes management await us. And in 2021, we commemorate 100 years of the discovery of insulin.
It was in 1921 that Dr Fredrick Banting and his team of researchers studied and proved that extracts from the pancreas gland in the abdomen do contain insulin and that this insulin could be used for treating Diabetes. Insulin, as we know is a hormone that can lower blood glucose. Diabetes is a disease of high glucose levels in the blood. Since this discovery, people with insulin-dependent diabetes have been able to live and live well. Needless to say, Dr Banting and his team, especially Dr Best, Dr Macleod and Dr Collip were honoured with the Nobel Prize.
The year 1921 is also remarkable for a second contribution to the science of insulin. For it was in 1921 the Nobel Prize-winning Professor Rosalyn Yalow was born. Professor Yalow, would in the 1960s, invent a technique to measure hormones. The first hormone she measured was the first hormone to be ever measured properly. This hormone was (you guessed it right!) insulin. This was a momentous discovery, for it helped us to understand that in some cases of Diabetes, insulin is deficient, and in other forms of Diabetes, the body is resistant to insulin. Recent research has been built around these discoveries, as most Diabetes medications seek to normalise insulin levels or make insulin work better. Even lifestyle modifications like diet and exercise work by improving insulin production and reducing the body’s resistance to insulin.
A year of the pandemic is nothing compared to a century of progress in science and human endeavour. Humanity can, must and will find a way out of this pandemic. Hence, it is important to stay positive. I say this because as a doctor, I have seen a lot of stress in people who have Diabetes. They worry about the pandemic, worry about rising blood glucose levels and worry about Diabetes-related complications. During these difficult times, we at Diabetes Health have decided to bring hope and cheer by sharing five positive stories about people with Diabetes, as the cover story. Share these true stories with your friends and relatives, so that they too can stay positive during the pandemic. By bringing these stories to you, we are trying to pass on an important message:
Diabetes can be defeated. Diseases can be overcome.
Like insulin in the last century, may 2021 herald a new century for people with Diabetes. Exciting discoveries in nutrition research, in Diabetes-related technology as well as medications, are all expected this year. People with Diabetes are living longer. With further research in the field, this progress will continue. In this century, I hope to regularly see and treat centenarians with Diabetes! This year, which is nearly here, will bring reasons to cheer!
Dr Unnikrishnan AG