Feature Archive

High-Tech Hormone: Updated Insulin

Knowing what kind of insulin to use and when can keep blood sugar levels -- and diabetes -- in check.

By Neil Osterweil
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Charlotte Grayson

In 1922, Canadian researchers Frederick Banting and Herbert Best discovered that the "pancreatic extract" they had identified and isolated appeared to reverse the symptoms of diabetes in dogs. Their work would transform for the better the lives of millions of people with diabetes.

Commercial production of the extract, known as insulin, began the same year. But the early insulins for human use were fairly crude preparations, full of impurities that spurred the patient's immune system to mount an attack against the life-saving substance.

Today's insulins, however, are highly refined, highly purified products that come in a variety of forms, each tailored to meet a specific need of people with diabetes. In this article, we take a peek at emerging forms of insulin that hold the promise of eliminating the need for injections, look at insulin delivery devices, and review currently available insulins and how they are used.

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