DOCTOR'S VIEW ARCHIVE

Insulin Therapy for Diabetes Past, Present and Future

Medical Author: Ruchi Mathur, M.D.
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel, Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

I am lucky to have so many wonderful patients who try so very hard to maintain the best blood sugar control possible. For many of them, this involves insulin pump therapy or multiple injections of insulin a day - in addition to testing their blood sugars often. I often get asked is there is anything on the horizon that will make life easier for them. I tell them they may have to "squint" a bit to see it - but off to the distance, there just may be.

The Past

The symptoms of diabetes were described more than 2000 years ago. Aretaeus of Cappadocia (circa 150 A.D) noted that "...it consists of a moist and cold wasting of the flesh and limbs into the urine. The patient never ceases making water. The disease is chronic in character, though the patient does not survive long when it is completely established for the maramus produced is rapid and death is speedy." Ancient Hindu texts also described a diabetic syndrome, characterized by "honeyed urine." These astute observations characterized the clinical syndrome associated with what is now called type 1 diabetes (formerly known as insulin dependent diabetes). Type 1 diabetes usually manifests in childhood or young adulthood. Until the latter half of the 20th century, type 1 diabetes was a fatal disease.