Friday, November 12, 2010

Insulin Manufacture

Fun Fact: Insulin was the first product ever sold that was genetically engineered in the sense that we use the term. E coli's genetics were carefully changed so that the bacteria would produce insulin identical to human insulin.
This was done to address the issues of cost, supply, and purity of animal insulins; unfortunately it was really an improvement only in that there is an unlimited supply of insulin you can get from bacteria, and in that fewer people have allergic reactions to human insulins. But I personally am happier to know that my insulin doesn't depend on killing any animals.

I actually learned that one in a class on genetically modified crops, a few months before I was diagnosed with diabetes. :-)


Scott said...

I hate to break this to you, but your synthetic human insulin actually DOES depend on killing animals for it's manufacture. According to documents on file with the European Medicines Agency, all insulins made via rDNA use a host of animal byproducts to feed the master cell banks and the agars used in manufacture depend almost exclusively on animal byproducts.

Jonah said...

That sucks. I don't know if I want to look it up for myself, since there are no other options for me :-(