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(February 27, 1899 - March 31, 1978)
Born in the United States
Year of Discovery: 1922
Joining a Diabetes Researcher Due to a Flip of a Coin, He Helped Produce a Miracle Treatment
Best and Banting wanted to derive the secretions from a particular area of the pancreas, known as the Islets of Langerhans. They believed these secretions, which they could isolate by destroying most of the rest of the pancreas, might be the key to treating diabetes. They had been provided with 10 dogs for the project, from which they would obtain the secretions and prepare an extract. The team expected to complete their research by the end of July. But as is the case in many projects, it took longer than expected and it wasn't until July 30th that they were finally ready to prepare their first dose of extract. Best prepared the extract and they injected it into a diabetic dog. And at last, they knew they had hit on something huge - the blood sugar levels of the dog decreased! Best and Banting named their extract "isletin." Following further success with animals, the team then turned their attention to human testing. They began with themselves - they wanted to make sure the extract, which the University head renamed "insulin", was safe for human use. Once they were satisfied it was safe, they prepared to test the insulin on their first trial patient. They learned of a 14-year-old boy, Leonard Thompson, who had been admitted to Toronto General Hospital. Thompson barely clung to life, having been ravaged by diabetes for the past two years. He weighed a mere 65 pounds and doctors expected he could survive only a few more weeks. In January of 1922, Best and Banting injected the dying young boy with insulin. They had their first miracle - the insulin rescued Thompson from certain death, and he regained his weight and energy! On hearing of this miraculous recovery, parents with diabetic children rushed to Toronto, creating a shortage of insulin. The University quickly partnered with the American pharmaceutical company, Lilly. There the purified form of insulin was mass-produced and became readily available to diabetics worldwide, saving millions of lives.
Best was not only a brilliant scientist, he was also an accomplished athlete. He paid for his education through his earnings as a professional baseball player. But, when push came to shove, he chose science and the pursuit of a treatment for diabetes. He was offered a lucrative contract to play baseball in the summer of 1921 - the very same summer during which he had the opportunity to begin his research with Banting. His choice set the course for his future career in medicine and helped save millions of lives.
Introduction by Tim Anderson
Table of ContentsIntroduction
Links to More Information About the Scientist
Key Experiment or Research
Quotes by the Scientist
Quotes About the Scientist
Fun Trivia About The Science
The Science Behind the Discovery
Science Discovery Timeline
Recommended Books About the Science
Books by the Scientist
Books About the Scientist
Major Academic Papers
Links to Science and Related Information on the Subject
Links to More About the Scientist & the Science
Well Known Canadians mini-biography:
The Science Behind the Discovery
Links to Information on the Science