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One hundred years on: insulin is still saving lives

Thursday 13 January 2022 11:29am

This month marks one hundred years since the first person with type 1 diabetes was treated with insulin, in Toronto, Canada. Prior to this breakthrough, the life expectancy for someone with type 1 diabetes was only 1-2 years.

Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease which usually manifests in childhood. Cells in the pancreas which help control blood glucose levels (by secreting the hormone insulin) are destroyed by the immune system and therefore people living with this disease have a considerable life-long burden of managing their glucose levels.

The Edgar Diabetes and Obesity Research Centre includes research groups working on new technologies to more easily and equitably deliver this live-saving hormone. Continuous glucose monitoring and automated delivery of insulin are now a reality, but not everyone has access to these technologies.

Associate Professor Ben Wheeler, Dr Sara Styles and colleagues are running a number of clinical trials aimed at improving blood glucose control and delivery of insulin, particularly for children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes.

Read about EDOR's Type 1 Diabetes research

Diabetes staff 2021 Awards dinner 650
The Diabetes New Zealand Otago Branch recognised the work of Associate Professor Ben Wheeler and other members of the paediatric diabetes clinical team, at an awards ceremony last November.
From left: Ruth Thompson, Sharon Sandilands, Ben Wheeler, Jenny Rayns.