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Genetically Engineered Insulin

Last updated date: 26th May 2024
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Genetically Engineered Insulin Explained by Vedantu

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.


Insulin in other words is known as a peptide hormone and beta cells of pancreatic islets are responsible for its production. This depends on this cell for the products as it is the primary anabolic hormone within our body. This conducts regulation of the entire metabolism such as protein, carbohydrates, and fats with the help of absorbing glucose via the blood into fat, skeletal muscles, and liver. With the aid of all these tissues, the glucose that has been absorbed is further converted into glycogen. Beta cells are considered sensitive towards the level of blood sugar so that they lead to secrete insulin within the blood responding to high glucose levels. Insulin increases the metabolism and glucose uptake in the cells and it leads to a reduction of the level of blood sugar. 

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.

If we talk about fast-acting insulin then it is famous for its quick absorption via the fat tissues within the bloodstream. It works well to control the level of blood sugar during snacks and meals and also rectifies the level of blood sugars. This works within 1 or 2 hours and it has to be noted here that the higher dose will be the faster it will work. 

Next is an intermediate-acting insulin. This absorbs at a slower pace and its lasting impact is longer. This insulin works to curb the level of blood sugar within a night and fasting between meals. 

The third one is a long-acting insulin that has slow absorption and its peak impact is also minimal. This is known for plateau and stable impact and it lasts for the whole day. This is used for controlling the level of blood sugar between varied meals and overnight. 

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 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.


Thus, Vedantu has structured the content of genetically engineered insulin in the most refined manner. The content starts with the most crucial step which is the definition and its background. Further, it educates the students regarding the production and different types of insulin in detail. Once the students are versed with the definition and production process, then they are provided with information on the structure, steps, advantages, and disadvantages of insulin. Along with the study material, the students can expect full-fledged guidance according to the latest marking scheme and pattern of examination.

FAQs on Genetically Engineered Insulin

1. What is insulin? How is insulin produced?

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. In addition, this helps in storing the excessive amount of glucose for offering energy in a later stage. Once you have your meal, the level of insulin remains higher. And, an additional amount of glucose goes to the liver and piles up as glycogen.

2. What does it mean when your body has lower levels of insulin?

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 their blood sugar levels and it becomes low. This indicates that the intake of insulin should be carried out under medical supervision otherwise this may impact a person negatively.

3. Is there a prescribed amount of insulin for a single day of absorption?

If we talk about the prescribed amount of insulin per day, then it must be according to the direction of a medical supervisor. In case, a daily dose of insulin jumps over 200 units per day, then the U-100 volume required turns the delivery of insulin really challenging. Present insulin syringes may ensure delivery of 100 units maximum and the pen devices of insulin are able to ensure 60 to 80 units. Thus, this is really sensitive to go ahead without the direction of a doctor.

4. When is the time to replace blood sugar pills with insulin?

This is the time when your blood sugar medicine is not sufficient as per your doctor. In such cases, insulin is recommended to get control over the level of blood sugar. It comes in the form of a shot that you need to take before or after your food as prescribed to you. It is not possible to swallow it like medicine as normal digestion may kill its effect. Thus, this is the time when you are about to replace your pills with insulin shots.

5. What is the process to download genetically engineered insulin from Vedantu?

Vedantu is the right destination if you are looking for a platform to get information-rich content. But, if you are hesitant to think that it will be a tricky process to download the study stuff from here then you are at a mistake. Vedantu asks for a few simple steps to follow. First, you need to create a username and password, and you can fill it on the Vedantu website or portal to get there. Isn’t it really simple?