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The future looks bright.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin. We are celebrating this milestone with you and the 400 million other people with diabetes worldwide, who are able to live healthier, more vibrant lives because of this pioneering medical innovation.

Join us as we spotlight the many faces of diabetes; people who thrive due to the invention of insulin and a century of research, discovery, and technological breakthroughs. Today, those affected by diabetes are able to manage and take control of their condition––and that’s an incredible achievement. While there is much work still to be done, we continue to strive for progress. The future looks bright.
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Canadian physician, Dr. Frederick Banting, and his medical assistant, Charles H. Best, discovered how to extract the hormone insulin from the pancreas of a dog. Soon after, they used insulin to treat a dog with diabetes and––to their surprise––found that the injection had successfully normalized its blood sugar (blood glucose) levels. Eureka!
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The following year, with a little help from chemist, James B. Collip, Banting and Scottish physiologist, J.J.R. Macleod, used a more refined and purified form of insulin to successfully treat a 14-year-old boy named Leonard Thompson, who was gravely ill from diabetes until receiving their ground-breaking treatment.
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Medical researchers continued to develop better, more efficient versions of insulin. Before long, a slower-acting insulin was introduced, which dramatically changed the treatment of diabetes. This new type of longer-lasting insulin meant fewer injections (and happier patients).
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During this decade, two medical breakthroughs changed the course of diabetes research as we know it. First, the visionary Dr. Rachmiel Levine proved that insulin lowers blood sugar (blood glucose) by stimulating the movement of glucose into cells. Next, Dr. Fredrick Sanger developed a ground-breaking method to read the amino acid sequence of insulin. Dr. Sanger was finally recognized for his efforts in 1958, when he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
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For the first time, researchers were able to identify two distinctive types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2, which led to the development of targeted treatments for each variant. Additionally, the first disposable plastic syringe was released and made widely available. Up until this point, people with diabetes still had to boil metal needles and glass syringes for each injection of insulin.
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Advances in diabetes treatments continued to evolve with the creation of the first insulin pump, the introduction of glucagon to treat hypoglycemia (high blood sugar), and the production of blood glucose test strips, which allowed people to read their blood sugar (blood glucose) levels in real time. Additionally, the first successful pancreas transplant took place––a pioneering surgical procedure that stills saves many lives today.
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Up until now, insulin from cattle and pigs was used to treat diabetes. Though it saved countless lives, it certainly wasn’t perfect, causing allergic reactions in a number of patients. Dr. Sanger’s aforementioned work on insulin sequencing led to the invention of synthetic “human” insulin––which transformed diabetes treatment. Soon after, technological advances, such as portable blood glucose meters, and closed loop insulin delivery systems (which mimic a functioning human pancreas) were introduced, followed by the A1C test (shows average blood sugar (blood glucose) levels over two to three months)––the gold standard for measuring blood sugar control.
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Human insulin (identical to what the body produces on its own) is made commercially available, providing greater access and easier management for people living with diabetes. Two great new insulin delivery systems are also introduced, including the “mini” insulin pump, and the very first insulin pen. Not forgetting the launch of the home blood glucose meter, which transforms patient care.
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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the first continuous glucose monitor (CGM), which automatically tracks blood sugar (blood glucose) levels through an external device that’s attached to the body, giving real-time updates day and night. This discovery is the first step in introducing the CGM/insulin pump system, which automatically doses the correct amount of insulin based on your blood sugar reading.
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Thanks to decades of research, advances in insulin therapy develop further with the invention of long-lasting and fast-acting inhalable insulins. Insulin varies depending on its strength, how quickly it works, when it peaks, and how long it lasts. People with diabetes are now able to choose from a variety of formulas and ways to take their insulin based on their personal needs and lifestyle preferences.
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The first type of artificial pancreas system, coined the hybrid closed-loop system, is approved by the FDA. Using a CGM and insulin pump, it automatically administers insulin according to a person’s blood sugar (blood glucose) levels. Additionally, a versatile new insulin pump (ACE) makes its debut. This pump can be used with different components, allowing patients to tailor their diabetes management to their individual device preferences.
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Fast forward ten decades and insulin is still the safest, most effective way to manage blood sugar (blood glucose). Though it’s not a cure for diabetes, it’s certainly a life saver. From syringes and pens to pumps and CGMs, diabetes technologies have revolutionized the management of diabetes, and transformed the lives of millions of people who are affected by the condition.
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Today, scientists and medical experts continue to research and seek out innovative new treatments for diabetes. Right now, insulin remains a medical marvel. What’s next for insulin?


Need help? If you are struggling to pay for insulin or other diabetes supplies, there are programs to help. Check out the links below for information and resources about insulin and device manufacturer’s patient assistance programs.