Genetic engineers have generated mouse pancreases in rats, and then transplanted them into diabetic mice. They were then able to show almost a complete cure in the diabetic mice, without using any immunosuppressant drugs. The next step is to implant human stem cells into sheep embryos that have been genetically modified so they cannot grow a pancreas, in the hope that human DNA will fill in the missing code. If successful, a human pancreas should appear inside the animal’s body. The Stanford University team, led by Dr. Hiro Nakauchi, is about to apply for permission from regulators to lengthen their experiment to 70 days to see if the human cells really can create an organ. He estimates that organs grown in animals will be available for transplant into humans within the next five to 10 years. -- The Telegraph, Feb. 17
From a bioethical perspective, I would question the wisdom of investing in this kind of biotechnology to save human lives in the future. Certainly there will always be people needing replacement organs, their own having been damaged by our environmental toxins, petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals. Others have suffered from genetic mutations, birth defects and childhood cancer. But we would be better off investing in preventive medicine rather than profit-driven treatments, and that calls for greater international effort to improve the quality of our air and water, along with the safety, security and nutritive value of our food -- all of which climate change is compromising.
There is only false hope in harvesting human organs from future animal farms, because they will supply only an affluent few, some currently served by the illicit trade in human organs. There is nothing to celebrate in such biotechnological prowess, because we should not be applying it to keeping some humans alive in an increasingly poisoned world while millions are currently malnourished, diseased, at war and dying.
DEAR DR. FOX: I read with interest the article regarding wound-healing and aloe gel.
Our terrier Abbey had a lot of trouble with healing a wound from cancer surgery. With no clear answer from our vet, I got some local honey and applied it several times a day on the wound. Within several days, it seemed to be improving. Very soon after that, it was completely healed! The vet seemed very surprised.
I also used the honey on a bad hand wound my doctor-averse husband had, and it healed remarkably quickly. It seems this old-time remedy helped. Perhaps this information may be useful to others. -- C.R., Freehold, New Jersey
DEAR C.R.: You are one of several readers confirming the healing powers of honey.
It was also used in the old days for maggot-infested wounds and bedsores in humans; when not available, refined sugar was used, which was nowhere near as effective in healing and preventing infection. Honey can also be used in an emergency to alleviate inflammatory eye conditions.
I learned from readers decades ago that locally produced honey and bee pollen can help alleviate seasonal allergies in dogs. With such safe, naturopathic remedies, finding out what an effective dose is often becomes a matter of trial and error. Start by giving an allergy-prone dog 1 teaspoon per 30 pounds of body weight daily, with food, for five to seven days. If there are no signs of improvement, try doubling that amount for another five to seven days. Then stop and repeat at weekly intervals as needed. Often one to two weeks of treatment with a local honey product will suffice. Animals who are diabetic would be better off with the lower sugar content of bee pollen.
We owe so much to the insect kingdom, and in particular the bees, who have helped us put food on our tables since the beginning of time by pollinating our crops and orchards, as well as the wild plants whose fruits and nuts we harvest. These insects are now being destroyed by toxic chemical-addicted industrial agriculture with its armament of insecticides and insect-killing genetically engineered crops, which we should all oppose, choosing instead to support insect-friendly, organically certified producers. These include our local beekeepers, whose bees can help us -- and our dogs -- cope with seasonal allergies with their pollen and honey.
Easter was once a pagan celebration of the renewal of life with the advent of spring. Now, Easter’s deep cultural roots and Christian traditions have been commercialized and debased by the wholesale marketing of “Easter” bunnies, chicks and ducklings. Most die, in a total inversion of the spirit of Easter. They often carry salmonella and other infectious organisms, and pose a heal risk for families, leading some responsible municipal authorities to ban such seasonal sales. My appeal is to go to your local shelter at this time of year and save a life by adopting an animal you know how to care for. This is a much better option than encouraging more commercial breeding by purchasing an animal that could endanger your health, die soon after purchase or have to be given away.
(Send all mail to email@example.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxVet.net.)