The Pulse – July 11, 2014

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    Several weeks ago, the government adjusted its estimate on Americans with diabetes—the number went up, again, to 29 million people. That means more and more people are trying to learn to cope with diabetes at work, and, similarly, more workplaces are managing people with the disease. We sent senior reporter Taunya English to find out how that potentially rocky relationship is working out.

    But recent diabetes news hasn’t been all bad. Case in point: a two-year-old golden retriever named Bretagne who is about to become the first diabetes alert dog to graduate from the Penn Working Dog Center in Philadelphia. If her training was successful, Bertagne will be able to help those suffering from diabetes by smelling episodes of low blood sugar and alerting her owner. Reporter Lari Robling tagged along on a training walk with Bretagne and her new owner, Wayne Mowry. 

    A movement is underway that could fundamentally change our relationship with animals and their status in our society. University of Pennsylvania professor of animal ethics and welfare, James Serpell, joins us to discuss the complicated notion of granting some animals what’s called non-human personhood, expanding their legal rights.

    Overdose deaths from heroin and opioid prescription painkillers have been rising all over the country—in gritty city neighborhoods and leafy suburbs alike—and police officers are pushing to get a tool that can help them save lives. It’s called Narcan, and, when used right, it can immediately reverse a heroin overdose. Reporters Elizabeth Fiedler and Elana Gordon look at how this miracle antidote works and who is allowed to administer it.

    Tourette syndrome is a commonly misunderstood neurological disorder that is often the butt of jokes in which sufferers can’t stop cursing. In reality, Tourette’s causes sufferers to feel alienated socially, but the work of ambassadors like 16-year-old Adam Fishbein help fellow sufferers understand Tourette’s role in their lives.

    A Pennsylvania company is in the running for one of the biggest environmental prizes ever—the $25-million “Virgin Earth Challenge.” British mega-entrepreneur Richard Branson and Al Gore are looking for novel ideas for greenhouse gas removal. The product that has caught the attention of the judges in this high-stakes competition is called “biochar,” but it’s not for your grill.

    Chances are that at some point, you’ve walked, run or pedaled “for a cure”…or at least donated money to someone who has. Each year, thousands of walkathons and bikeathons are held for diseases like AIDS, cancer, and diabetes, and they raise both money and public awareness. This year, Penn’s Center for Orphan Disease Research and Therapy organized The Million Dollar Bike ride in support of those diseases we seldom hear about. We spend the day with folks hoping to stir our interest in rare disease research. 

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