"That's one small step for a human; one giant leap for mankind." - Neil Armstrong It is said that the unearthing of insulin is a story of famous, almost famous and little known people, of serendipities, discoveries and re-discoveries. Here are a few interesting but unknown stories about the discovery of insulin - had they transpired could have written history slightly differently. .Apology for an islandThe story is set in 19th century Germany, at the Langerhans Residence. Paul Langerhans was a worried man. His doctorate thesis had been submitted, but the committee members had asked for a clarification. 'Why did he distract from his focus?', they seemed to ask. Why did he mention those little islands of cells, when they had no relevance to his main work?Paul Langerhans thought hard. As a believer in intuition, he wished to document his discovery of distinct islands of cells in the abdomen. But as a servant of logic, the situation demanded that he apologise.Reluctantly, Paul Langerhans apologised for discovering the Islets of Langerhans, as they are known today.The apology is the most dramatic one in the scientific history of Diabetes. For today, no study of biology is considered completewithout a reading of the famous islets. The Islets of Langerhans are clusters of cells in the body of the pancreas gland in the abdomen. These islets produce insulin and glucagon. Insulin is a chemical messenger that reduces blood sugar levels, whereas glucagon increases blood sugar levels.When insulin and glucagon work together, blood sugar levels are controlled and when they are discordant, Diabetes can result.Several Nobel Prize winners have been awarded for work related to insulin and inarguably all these stem from the discovery of the little islands (or islets) named after Langerhans.The one-dollar smileThere are a lot of controversies regarding the Nobel Prize awarded in 1921 for the discovery of insulin. There is no doubt that four scientists namely, Fredrick Banting, Charles Best, James Collip and John Macleod among others, were responsible for the discovery of insulin. Of these, Banting, Best and Collip were granted American patents for insulin. The patents were sold to the University of Toronto for just $1.00 each. The scientists gave away the patent for science which in today's world, is very peculiar and shows an unheard of level of generosityWhat might have been!In February 1905, Eugene Gley, a French physiologist and endocrinologist, shared a sealed document with the Societe de Biologie in Paris titled 'Sur la secretion inteme du pancreas et son utilisation therapeutique' (On the internal secretion of the pancreas and its therapeutic use), in which he described experiments that he had performed on pancreatectomized(surgical removal of some or all parts of the pancreas) dogs between 1890 and 1901.He wanted to test Gustave-Edouard Laguesse's hypothesis that the islets of Langerhans would secrete a substance that could lower the expulsion of blood sugar through the urine.The sealed document mentioned that he had found the first water-based pancreatic extract that could reduce high blood sugar levels in dogs whose pancreas were removed. It was not until 1922, when Banting and Best published their research, that Gley asked for his classified document with similar clinical findings to be opened and readout. This approach may seem strange and incomprehensible in today's time but was the norm in those days as a precaution in case the author fails to complete his or her research for some reason. Even in present times, there are several researchers and innovators across the world who possess unique ground-breaking ideas but are afraid of putting the word out. May this story serve as an inspiration for them to come forward and share their ideas with the world.The noble connectionCould you guess what connects insulin and vinblastine (a chemotherapy medication)? E. Clark Noble. Clark Noble was one of the first members of the insulin team of the University of Toronto. He lost the opportunity to take the place of Charles Best as Fredrick Banting's assistant based on a coin toss during the summer of 1921. Noble conducted various important Pavlov (physiology of pancreas). The discovery of insulin gave spark to several Healthy pancreas Diabetes mellitus type 1 preliminary studies to identify insulin's action and also co-authored many scientific papers stating insulin. Later, the production of animal insulin.proved to be difficult. Macleod was a senior scientist and in charge of the insulin team. He hired Noble in the summer of 1923 to help him test and develop a method for the commercial production of insulin that could transform everything.By 1924, the idea of producing commercial insulin from fish proved to be unworkable and was shelved completely as methods to produce insulin from mammals had rapidly improved. Clark Noble went on to make a significant contribution to thechemotherapy research in Canada by helping his brother Robert Lain Noble in the discovery of vinca alkaloids (a type of drug extracted from Madagascar Periwinkle plant used in chemotherapy for cancertreatment). Unlike expectations, Clark Noble, who was a part of two revolutionary therapeutic discoveries of Canada at that time, did not achieve fame like his fellow scientists and lived an uncelebrated life.To concludeThe journey of insulin is of several Nobel prize-winning contributions made by eminent researchers like Fredrick Sanger (sequencing of insulin), Dorothy Hodgkin (identifying the structure of insulin), Rosalyn Yalow and Solomon Berson (measurement of insulin hormone), Christian de Duve (mechanism of insulin action) and IvanPavlov (physiology of pancreas). The discovery of insulin gave spark to severalother findings and is continuing to do so in hope of improved health outcomes in Diabetes.Dr Unnikrishnan AG is the Chief Endocrinologist and CEO of Chellaram Hospital - Diabetes Care and Multispecialty and the Editor of Diabetes Health magazine.