Sir Frederick Banting, who came up with the idea for insulin, one of the most important medical discoveries of the 20th century, has been honoured 90 years after he came up with the idea. A three-metre-high sculpture was unveiled yesterday at Banting’s home in Ontario, Canada, to mark the anniversary.
Prior to Banting’s discovery, the only treatment for diabetes was a starvation diet . However, the doctor only originated the idea in his sleep, when he was preparing to give a lecture on diabetes . He had read an article about the pancreas before going to sleep, and then apparently had a restless night as the lecture and article went round in his head.
On waking, he noted down some thoughts that had come to him during the night, which suggested a link between the hormone produced by the pancreas and the body’s ability to process sugar . Banting then worked with colleagues at the University of Toronto, successfully testing insulin on humans in 1922.
In 1923, Banting was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, the first Canadian to win the prize, and his home in London, Ontario, is still a popular attraction for visitors aware of the importance of his work.
Grant Maltma, curator at Banting’s homen, commented “We have better insulin today. What we don’t have is anything better than insulin and that’s why Banting is still regarded around the world as this global hero.”

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