of people worldwide suffer from diabetes. Diabetes occurs when
the pancreas doesn't produce enough of a hormone called insulin.
Insulin is necessary for using the energy we get from food.
- Most of
our food is changed into glucose (a type of sugar). The insulin
helps the glucose get into the cells of our bodies so it can be
used as energy. Because diabetics don't have enough insulin, the
glucose builds up in their bloodstream, which can lead to serious
health complications like heart disease, blindness, and kidney
have to take daily doses of insulin to manage their glucose levels.
The insulin can come from several sources, including the pancreas
of a pig or cow. Because pig insulin is nearly identical to human
insulin, pigs are the most common source. But some diabetics react
badly to pig insulin. It is also difficult to get the large quantity
of insulin needed when pigs are relied on as the main source.
companies now use genetic engineering to produce large quantities
of insulin for diabetics around the world. The common Escherichia
coli (E. coli) bacteria is used to produce insulin. Using recombinant
DNA (glossary id 27) technology, the gene for producing insulin
is inserted into the E. coli's genetic material. These genetically
engineered bacteria are turned into tiny insulin producing factories.
- The resulting
insulin is so close to human insulin that it is virtually impossible
to distinguish one from the other.