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Diabetes: Controversy over xenotransplantation

It's been the elusive cure, one that scientists have felt they've been on the brink of breaking for the past 80 years. But for years, diabetes has remained a treatable but not yet cured disease. In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of death by disease in Canada. Banting and Best are Canada's best known connection to diabetes but the Canadian connection continues. Since the historic discovery of insulin, there have been improvements and refinements. The promise of a cure for all, however, remains as yet unfulfilled, leaving many to live highly regimented and uncertain lives.

Dr. David White of the University of Western Ontario is at the centre of a medical controversy. White is working with a team in Mexico City that is transplanting pig's islet cells into diabetic teenagers. Given the scarcity of human donors, he says that pig islets make for improved accessibility. But others say that transplanting animal organs into humans is rife with genetic issues and complications. Quirks & Quarks interviews Dr. David White in London, Ont.
. The Oxford English Dictionary defines xenotransplantation as the transplantation of organs or tissue from one species into another.
. The prefix "xeno" comes from the Greek word xenos, meaning stranger.
. Dr. White's experiment came under considerable scrutiny because it involved testing on teenagers. Xenotransplantation involving humans is not allowed in Canada.
Medium: Radio
Program: Quirks & Quarks
Broadcast Date: Sept. 7, 2002
Guest(s): Dr. David White
Host: Bob McDonald
Duration: 8:46

Last updated: February 14, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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