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

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Diabetes has a history dating back to Ancient Greece. Our treatment of it, however, is more recent and was originally made possible with the help of man's best friend. Due to physiological traits shared with humans, dogs have saved countless lives through the discovery of insulin. Duncan C. Ferguson shares the story of the canine's great contribution to man -- and how we can all reap the medical benefits.

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Additional Resources for you to Explore
If you are interested in the medical historical aspects of this lesson, we suggest you check out these resources:

1. Banting FG, Best BA (1922): The Internal Secretion of the Pancreas. J. Lab. Clin. Med. 7(5):251-266.
2. Bliss M (2005): Resurrections in Toronto: The Emergence of Insulin. Horm Res 64 (suppl2): 98-102.
3. Rosenfeld L (2002): Insulin: Discovery and Controversy. Clin Chem 48(12): 2270
4. Zajac J, Shrestha A, Patel P, in Poretsky L, in Poretsky L (ed) (2010) Principles of Diabetes Mellitus, 2nd ed., pp. 3-18.

Interested in worldwide incidences of diabetes mellitus in human patients? Pay attention to this website.

Are you more interested in details comparing the physiology, diagnosis and treatment of diabetes in dogs? Check out these articles below:

1. Hoenig M (2014): Carbohydrate Metabolism and Pathogenesis of Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs and Cats. Progress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science 121:377-411.
2. Roberts IM (1954): The diagnosis and treatment of diabetes mellitus in the dog. J Am. Vet. Med. Assoc 124:443-446.
3. Guptill, L,Glickman, L, Glickman, N (2003): Time Trends and Risk Factors for Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs: Analysis of Veterinary Medical Data Base Records (1970 - 1999.) Veterinary Journal.165 (3): 240-247.

Type I diabetes mellitus runs in families, that is, it is inherited. We know that certain breeds of dogs have a greater incidence of diabetes also. If you are interested in the genetic aspects, you may want to check out the following resources:

1. “The Genetics of Diabetes in Dogs." http://www.vetinfo.com/genetics-diabetes-dogs.html
2. Short AD, Catchpole B, Kennedy LJ et al. (2007). Analysis of Canine Susceptibility Genes in Canine Diabetes. Journal of Heredity 98 (5): 518-525.

Finally, dogs also serve human diabetics in other ways. Check out this fascinating service that some well-trained dogs can provide to their diabetic owners.
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TED-Ed
Lesson Creator
New York, NY
Were the lessons learned about both human and canine diabetes worth the sacrifice of those dogs? Is additional more refined animal experimentation (e.g. mice, rats, dogs or cats) justifiable today? Does your answer depend upon the species? What factors do you consider most highly in reaching your conclusions (e.g. comparative physiology, ethics, specific training of researcher, importance of animal studies before human studies, study of companion animals like dogs, current alternatives to animal research, Food and Drug Administration legal requirements for animal experiments before drug development in clinical patients, human or other species, etc.)?
08/28/2014 • 
 32 Responses
 / 32 Updates

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