Breakthrough: the Discovery of Insulin, and the Making of a Medical Miracle by Thea Cooper and Arthur Ainsberg

One of the most important medical breakthroughs of our time is the discovery of insulin, which has and continues to save millions of lives world-wide.  Yet no book has offered a vivid, immediate portrayal of the complex characters of this extremely intricate story – until now.

Ninety years after Dr. Frederick Banting had an idea that would unlock the mystery of the dreaded diabetes disorder in a University of Toronto lab, comes a new book that recreates the discovery with the suspense and drama of a thriller:  BREAKTHROUGH: Elizabeth Hughes, the Discovery of Insulin, and the Making of a Medical Miracle (St. Martin’s Press: September 2010: hardcover) by Thea Cooper and Arthur Ainsberg.  Through the prism of the fragile life of a young girl, this remarkable breakthrough comes to life.

In 1918 Elizabeth Hughes stands in the kitchen of her family’s elegant townhouse in New York City, fiercely gulping water from a glass. She is the daughter of Charles Evans Hughes, one of the city’s most highly respected and recognizable citizens.  Although Elizabeth doesn’t yet know it, she has what was then an unerringly fatal disease – juvenile diabetes mellitus.  In a few short months, what had been a happy, active childhood will be eclipsed by the mounting symptoms of ravenous hunger and insatiable thirst.

In Toronto, a surgeon named Frederick Banting and a student named Charles Best succeed in purifying insulin from animal pancreases.  Within months this miracle is nearly derailed by scientific jealousy, intense business competition, and at least one fistfight.  In a race against time and a ravaging disease, Elizabeth becomes one of the first diabetics to receive insulin injections.  As less fortunate children die, the discoverers work with a little-known pharmaceutical company named Eli Lilly and Company to make insulin available.

BREAKTHROUGH is everything popular history should be – an enthralling story meticulously researched and presented to appeal to readers of all ages.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Life for a Child Program of the International Diabetes Federation.