COMMENTS: Diabetes Triple Play

A medical development was the other story that warranted coverage by reporters from all three networks. The Journal of the American Medical Association described an experimental treatment for juvenile diabetes on 15 patients that may restore insulin production to a malfunctioning pancreas.

Interestingly, the three networks chose differing angles.

NBC's Robert Bazell was the only correspondent of the three to mention the fact that the experiment had been conducted in Brazil. He focused on the ethics of outsourcing such risky procedures to poorer populations: "Hospitals in this country would be extremely reluctant to give permission for such a potentially life-threatening experiment." ABC's John McKenzie (subscription required) emphasized the risks: the treatment uses five days of chemotherapy to "destroy the existing immune system," making the body vulnerable to infection before the patient's healthy cells are reintroduced. The technique, McKenzie explained, is designed for newly-diagnosed diabetes patients, those who have "insulin-producing cells left to save." On CBS, in-house physician Jon LaPook used the buzzword "stem cells" to describe the experiment--not the embryonic stem cells that many pro-lifers object to, but the patient's own. LaPook also called the chemotherapy "a gentle form."


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