Diabetes, despite its reputation of being an essentially urban affliction, has been known to man since 1500 BC when it was described in Egypt. In fact, the term diabetes mellitus (Greek) was coined in the second century AD. Perhaps diabetes is better described as a disease of the civilised world.
Insulin, the hormone associated with diabetes, has always been associated with cutting-edge technology. When Banting and Best discovered it in the early 1920s, it was the first hormone to be identified. When Sanger elucidated its primary amino acid structure in 1955 he did so by evolving techniques that are still in use. When recombinant human insulin was first manufactured using Escherischia coli (E.coli) in 1979 it was hailed as a new dawn for medical biotechnology.