What did dogs teach humans about diabetes? – Duncan C. Ferguson
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What did dogs teach humans about diabetes? – Duncan C. Ferguson

September 3, 2019


Diabetes mellitus has been a scourge
of the developed world with an estimated 400,000,000 people
worldwide suffering from this disease, and 50% more predicted
within twenty years. Its early symptoms, which include increased thirst
and large volumes of urine, were recognized as far back
as 1500 BCE in Egypt. While the term diabetes,
meaning “to pass through,” was first used in 250 BCE by the Greek physician
Apollonius of Memphis, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, associated respectively
with youth and obesity, were identified as separate conditions by Indian physicians
somewhere in the 5th century CE. But despite the disease being known, a diagnosis of diabetes in a human patient would remain tantamount
to a death sentence until the early 20th century,
its causes unknown. What changed this dire situation was the help of humanity’s
longtime animal partner: Canis lupus familiaris, domesticated from Grey wolves
thousands of years ago. In 1890, the German scientists
Von Mering and Minkowski demonstrated that removing
a dog’s pancreas caused it to develop
all the signs of diabetes, thus establishing the organ’s
central role in the disease. But the exact mechanism
by which this occurred remained a mystery until 1920, when a young Canadian surgeon
named Frederick Banting and his student, Charles Best, advanced the findings
of their German colleagues. Working under Professor Macleod
at the University of Toronto, they confirmed that the pancreas was
responsible for regulating blood glucose, successfully treating diabetic dogs
by injecting them with an extract they had prepared from pancreas tissue. By 1922, the researchers working
with biochemist James Collip were able to develop a similar extract
from beef pancreas to first treat a 14-year-old diabetic boy, followed by six additional patients. The manufacturing process
for this extract, now known as insulin, was eventually turned over
to a pharmaceutical company that makes different types
of injectable insulin to this day. Banting and Macleod received the Nobel Prize for Medicine
in 1923 for their discovery. But Banting chose to share
his portion with Charles Best, for his help in the initial
studies involving dogs. But while medical experimentation
on animals remains controversial, in this case at least, it was not just a matter
of exploiting dogs for human needs. Dogs develop diabetes at the rate
of two cases per 1,000 dogs, almost the same
as that of humans under 20. Most canine cases are of Type 1 diabetes, similar to the type
that young children develop following immune system
destruction of the pancreas, and genetic studies have shown that the dog disease has many
similar hallmarks of the human disease. This has allowed veterinarians
to turn the tables, successfully using insulin
to treat diabetes in man’s best friend for over 60 years. Many dog owners commit
to managing their dogs’ diabetes with insulin injected twice daily,
regimented feedings, and periodic blood measurements using the same home-testing
glucose monitors used by human patients. And if the purified pig insulin
commonly used for dogs fails to work for a particular dog, the vet may even turn
to a formulation of human insulin, bringing the process full circle. After all that dogs have done
for us throughout the ages, including their role
in a medical discovery that has saved countless human lives, using that same knowledge
to help them is the least we could do.

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  1. This is really fun to learn about. I'd never learn about this in school and it's so convenient to have these short cartoons on random interesting things like this :3

  2. thank you… your illuminating videos enrich my life…
    delighted when the human beings associated with the advances presented are acknowledged…
    further delighted when an aside, such as how Banting shared with Best…
    affirmation of human species…
    bravo folks…
    every day your work enriches humankind…

  3.  
    An exquisite presentation on the history of diabetes and insulin! Very nice TED-Ed and Duncan C. Ferguson! I just learned about this in my pharmacy biotech class yesterday! Such a coincidence!!!

  4. I find it funny that they tried to remain NPOV with animal testing, but they ended up both condemning it and whitewashing it.
    Next time, try stating the animal testing aspect matter-of-factly, without attempting to emit conflicting judgments of value in an attempt to be balanced.

  5. By the time Banting isolated insulin, Paulescu already held a patent for its discovery. Moreover, Banting was familiar with Paulescu’s work.

  6. Insulin is actually Pancreine invented by Nicolae Paulescu http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolae_Paulescu. Sure Banting and Best got the money and Paulescu did not have enough to get his justice but the least you can do is mention the controversy. History should not forget real inventors.

  7. 1:52 Pretty sure that kid's blood and some tissue was just sucked back out of him by that syringe STILL IN HIS ARM when the doctor retracted the plunger!

  8. Dogs evolved to live with humans and so adopted the human disease (diabetes) too in the process by eating biscuits, pasta and rice! Limit carb.

  9. In an article for a 1971 issue of the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, "Paulescu and the Isolation of Insulin," Murray wrote:
    Insufficient recognition has been given to Paulescu, the distinguished Romanian scientist, who at the time when the Toronto team were commencing their research had already succeeded in extracting the antidiabetic hormone of the pancreas and proving its efficacy in reducing the hyperglycaemia in diabetic dogs.
    Banting and Best are commonly believed to have been the first to have succeeded in isolating insulin. They have been hailed as its "discoverers." Their work, however, may more accurately be construed as confirmation of Paulescu's findings.
    When all the circumstances are reviewed, it does appear ironical that Paulescu with all his experience might be in danger of oblivion, while the young and inexperienced Banting is remembered as if he alone had been responsible for insulin.

  10. I think animal testing is essential for us to develop but not like how it's done today especially in cosmetics it needs to be regulated so the animal don't suffer more than it needs

  11. Many people are unaware that a trypanophobits's worst nightmare would be diabetes, because trypanophobia is the fear of needle and treating diabetes requires tons of them.

  12. I have Type 1 diabetes (I'm 13), it ain't /so/ bad. When I first got it, I was so s a red of needles, now I'm like, a pro at giving them to myself. It ain't so bad! U just gotta give yourself a needle whenever u eat, and you can't pig out that much.

  13. Disappointing for a TED-Ed! Check your facts, people.. Especially those living with diabetes. I can understand (to some extent) the need to attribute everything to your own culture but the truth remains that all credit is due to the Romanian scientist Nicolae Paulescu. Mr Duncan C Ferguson, you can still do your job properly and change the inaccurate facts presented!

  14. Dog's role in medical discovery was medical experimentation. They could have used any animal and got the same results. Kind of a stretch here.
    Cats get diabetes as frequently as dogs do, and are treated the same way.
    It's all about the food WE and THEY eat.

  15. Lovely Video! Excuse me for chiming in, I am interested in your initial thoughts. Have you thought about – Patlarny Diabetes Ruins Principle (just google it)? It is a good exclusive guide for destroying diabetes without the normal expense. Ive heard some extraordinary things about it and my mate after many years got great success with it.

  16. Actually, the Insulin was first invented in Romania by an Scientist named Nicolae Paulescu, who named it Pancrein.

  17. Umm dogs didnt evolve from wolfs they evolved from carcas eating hound-sized husky-like fanged creatures that human adopted

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