Historical review on the early development of organotherapy
for diabetes [pancreatic extracts
(PE)] and its relationship with the social and political circumstances.
Areas of Uncertainty:
The diagnosis of diabetes relied only in the presence of glycosuria and cardinal symptoms. Blood glucose determinations were not regularly available, requiring large volumes for sampling. Micromethods for glycemia were developed just in the last years of the investigated period. Hypoglycemia
remains undiscovered. Isolation and purification of PE were difficult tasks due to the unknown chemical structure of the antidiabetic hormone.
(1) Berliner Medizinhistoriches Museum der Charité (Humboldt University). (2) GeDenKort Charité-Wissenschaft in Verantwortung. (3) Geheim Staatsarchiv Preuβischer Kulturbesitz. (4) Archival Collections, University of Toronto: Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. Academy of Medicine Collection, F. G. Banting Papers, C. H. Best Papers, J. J. R. Macleod Papers.
(5) National Library of Medicine: Pubmed
search for the topic of history of insulin. History of Medicine-
on syllabus archive. (6) Selected books: The Discovery of Insulin
(M. Bliss); Diabetes, Its Medical and Cultural History
(D. von Engelhardt); Brown-Séquard
(M. J. Aminoff); Diabetes: The Biography
(R. Tattersall); The Endocrine Organs
(E. Schäfer); The Internal Secretions
(E. Gley); Health, race and German politics between national unification and Nazism, 1870–1945
Demonstration that diabetes is a pancreatic disease. The outstanding progress of medical physiology led to the birth of endocrinology and the key concepts of homeostasis. Experimental scientists designed new procedures for complete pancreatectomy and elaboration of PE containing the antidiabetic principle. Organotherapy
achieved complete success in the treatment of myxedema and partial success in the treatment of experimental and clinical diabetes.
of diabetes was an obliged step to facilitate the identification of the antidiabetic hormone. Organotherapy
of diabetes was a paradigm for the integration of basic and applied knowledge about hormone action and development of endocrine pharmacology.