Meloy the Diabetic

One of the most notable success stories for medical testing on animals was in 1921 when insulin began to be extracted from dogs, in particular beagles, and then later, cattle and pigs, for the treatment of diabetes. Although most medicine used by humans and animals has at one stage been tested on animals, I have always felt particularly concerned about this issue due to the fact that I am an insulin dependent diabetic; and have a pet beagle. This has made me acutely aware that I would not be alive if it were not for medical testing on animals, but also that my dog’s predecessors suffered much pain in order for me to be alive, and still do as the search for a cure is ongoing. Modern medicine was able to refine the insulin making process in 1964 by introducing the gene for human insulin into the safflower plant which in turn produces biosynthetic human insulin. It was the first protein to be chemically synthesized. This process has been much more successful; the insulin itself is a much better product and the cost of animal life has been reduced dramatically. One day I hope that animal testing will become completely redundant, and I think that this very personal example is apt in showing that this is a possibility.

‘Meloy the Diabetic’ (2012) is a series of A5 pencil drawings of beagles, drawn onto purposely aged paper. Upon completion of each drawing, I tested my blood sugar level and then typed the result onto the bottom of the drawings. This was a process of combining my own burden with the guilt bequeathed to me by so many beautiful, and sadly unloved, dogs.

-“The Discovery of Insulin,” Nobel Prize,
-“The History of Insulin,” University Medical Centre of Giessen,