ISSN 1470-3947 (print) | ISSN 1479-6848 (online)

Endocrine Abstracts (2006) 12 S1

Diamonds are forever

SG Hillier


University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Lothian, United Kingdom.


“Bond put down the piece of quartz and gazed again into the heart of the diamond… In these few minutes Bond understood the myth of diamonds, and he knew that he would never forget what he had suddenly seen inside the heart of this stone.” FLEMING, Ian. Diamonds are Forever. London: Jonathan Cape, 1956.

1946 was not only the year that the Society for Endocrinology was formed it was also the year of the National Health Service Act 1946 and the year that cortisone (substance E) was first synthesised as a ‘wonder-drug’ effective against a number of crippling inflammation associated-conditions, most notably rheumatoid arthritis. Back then endocrinology was a new and (as it remains) exciting field of scientific and medical endeavour. The E subject had grown out of Starling’s 1905 hormone principle (…“the chemical messengers which, speeding from cell to cell along the blood stream, may coordinate the activities and growth of different parts of the body”…) into hormone therapeutics, so an E society was needed “…To promote the advance of endocrinology by observational, experimental or clinical studies”. From its foundation in 1946, membership grew steadily throughout the 20th century as the Society progressively developed services for endocrine science and medicine through its meetings and publications, and latterly through advocacy and educational activities. As a biomedical field, hormone science has continued to evolve, shedding new light on the causes and consequences of normal and abnormal cell-to-cell signalling and providing ever more effective molecular tools to improve health and tackle disease. However, it is salutary that 60 years after the first chemical synthesis of the E substance corticosteroids remain among the top-10 most commonly used prescription and over the counter drugs. And the post-genomic cortisone paradigm – from molecule-to-medicine and medicine-to-molecule – remains a glittering jewel in the endocrine crown.

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