TED Video Highlights Dog's Contributions to Understanding Diabetes

Video explores dogs role in the development of modern-day insulin injections.

By | Posted: October 1, 2014, 8 a.m. EST

Diabetes, aside from being the most preventable chronic illness, is also one of the oldest known diseases, recognized as far back as 1500 BCE in Egypt. On a recent installment of TED-Ed Originals, Duncan C. Ferguson shares a story one of dog’s greatest contribution to mankind.  

Original lessons from TED feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by talented animators.


The educational and entertaining video details the history of the discovery, research and current therapies of this disease.  Current day insulin medication, which is used by diabetics to control blood sugar, is derived from tissue extracted from bovine pancreas. But did you know the role dogs played in the discovery of insulin? According to Ferguson, humans and dogs shares several physiological traits, allowing dogs to help save countless human lives over the course of the past several decades. 


Science Dog 


The physiological similarities were noted in the late 19th century when German scientists removed the pancreas organ from a dog caused it show all the signs of diabetes. In 1920, Canadian scientists advanced the findings of the Germans by demonstrating that injecting a pancreatic extract, known as insulin, treated the symptoms of diabetic dogs. From this, scientists extracted insulin from bovine sources, which has become the most commonly used insulin in diabetes management in humans. These Canadian scientists went on to win the Nobel prize for Medicine in 1923.


 Diabetic Dog 

Photo from alamutt.com 

Clearly, humans have benefited greatly from this canine-assisted discovery. But it was good news for the dogs, too. Most canine cases of diabetes are extremely similar to the Type I variety known in humans. From symptoms to treatment, most of the canine disease shows similar qualities as that in the human disease. To this day, dogs use the same insulin as humans to treat diabetes, and sometimes, when that insulin is shown to be ineffective, have been given human-derived insulin, completing the animal-human cycle! 


More Dogs and Diabetes


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