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Contributions to the Microscopic Anatomy of the Pancreas

Nature volume 141, page 1038 (11 June 1938) | Download Citation



THIS little work, now reprinted from the Bulletin of the Institute of the History of Medicine (March 1937), contains one of the classics of medicine, which was presented by the medical student Paul Langerhans in 1869 at the age of twenty-one years as his inaugural thesis for the degree of doctor of medicine at the Berlin Faculty, The thesis constitutes not only the first detailed account of the microscopical anatomy of the pancreas, a subject which had hitherto been neglected by anatomists and physiologists but also the first description of peculiar groups of cells in this organ, the nature of which Langerhans was unable to explain. In 1893, however, they received the name of “islands of Langerhans” from the French histologist Laguesse, who first suggested that they were the seat of the internal secretion of the pancreas ; but it was not until 1921, or more than fifty years after the appearance of Langerhans' thesis, that insulin, the specific cure of diabetes, was isolated from these cells by Banting and Best of Toronto.

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