, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 72–75 | Cite as

Alloxan diabetes: The sorcerer and his apprentice

  • N. G. B. McLetchie
Historical Notes


The remarkable discovery of alloxan diabetes came about between a Professor of Pathology and an apprentice who was foisted on him. The Professor (J. Shaw Dunn) had a lifetime behind him largely dedicated to studies on the kidney and particularly reno-tubular necrosis. The apprentice (McLetchie), despite overburdening duties and discouragement against endocrine research in wartime, developed a passion for endocrine investigation. A Colonel Sheehan (later to be enshrined in Sheehan's syndrome) in a brief wartime collaboration with the apprentice left him with a vivid description of hypoglycaemia associated with post-partum pituitary necrosis. The apprentice saw this behaviour paralleled in rabbits which had been given alloxan in a vague belief that it would further wartime research on the Crush Kidney syndrome. And so, alloxan diabetes was born. Shaw Dunn achieved some posthumous recognition and World War 2 closed over the other actors in the scene.


Public Health Internal Medicine Human Physiology Metabolic Disease Alloxan 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. G. B. McLetchie
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PathologyLakes Region General HospitalLaconiaUSA

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