Genetically Engineered Insulin

The transfer of DNA from one organism to another by biotechnology is called genetic engineering. The organisms will be genetically modified to have the physical characteristics that are required for the production of large quantities of useful products. The bacterial cells are genetically modified in order to produce the genes that are required for human insulin production. 

The peptide hormone which is produced by beta cells of the pancreatic islets is called insulin. It regulates the metabolism of nutrients by absorbing glucose from the blood. In 1954, Frederick Sanger determined the primary structure of Insulin. Let us learn about how insulin is made, the steps involved in the production, and the advantages and disadvantages.

Insulin Production

When the blood sugar level increases in the body after taking the food a small organ that is located close to the liver releases a hormone called insulin in the bloodstream. 

Types of Insulin:

Insulin is divided into different types based on how long the effect it should have on a person.

  1. Fast-acting insulin

  2. Intermediate-acting insulin

  3. Long-acting insulin.

Structure of Insulin: 

Insulin has two peptide chains referred to as A chain and B chain. These two chains are linked together by two disulfide bonds. In most of the species, A chain has 21 amino acids and B chain has 30 amino acids. 

Recombinant Insulin Production Steps

Scientists make insulin by inserting a gene that codes for the insulin in yeast or bacteria. This type of production of human insulin was done at Genentech by scientists in the year 1979 from E.Coli bacterium. 

The Steps Involved are:

  1. The plasmid is a piece of circular DNA that is extracted from yeast or bacteria. 

  2. From the circular plasmid, a small section is being cut by the use of restriction enzymes called molecular scissors. 

  3. The gene that is required for the production of insulin by recombinant DNA technology is inserted into the gap in the plasmid. This plasmid is now genetically modified.

  4. This genetically modified plasmid is introduced into the yeast or bacterial cells. And these cells start dividing rapidly in the production of recombinant insulin.

  5. The genetically modified yeast or bacteria are grown in large fermentation vessels which contain all the required nutrients in order to produce large quantities of cells. More insulin is produced as more cells divide.

  6. When the fermentation process is completed the mixture is filtered to release the insulin.

Humulin Production:

Humulin is synthetic insulin that is prepared by the process of genetic engineering. It is also called genetically modified insulin. The effect of the humulin is the same as that of the insulin produced by the pancreas. 

Advantages of Humulin Over Insulin:

In ancient times the insulin that is required was extracted from the slaughtered cattle or pigs. The extraction process was difficult and even the production quantity was low. The insulin made from slaughtered animals affected some patients with allergies and other side effects due to foreign particles. Hence the humulin was introduced to avoid all these disadvantages caused by animal insulin.

  • Humulin has a high absorption rate and shows its effectiveness in a short period of time. 

  • Humulin is less expensive than animal insulin.

  • It causes few allergic reactions as compared to animal insulin.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is Insulin? How is Insulin Produced?

Ans: Insulin is a chemical messenger that helps the cells to absorb glucose from the blood.

Insulin is produced from the beta cells that are present in a small organ pancreas that is close to the liver.

2. What does it mean when Your Body has Lower Levels of Insulin?

Ans: When the insulin levels fall too low in our body it reflects on the strength of functioning of the body cells. This condition is called hypoglycemia. It occurs only when the blood sugar levels in the body drop down below 70 milligrams per decilitre. If people who have diabetes take too much insulin it affects the blood sugar levels and it becomes low.