Bacterial Production of Insulin

Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas that is used to adjust the level of glucose in the blood. For a diabetic, the amount of insulin fluctuates so they need to manually adjust the level in their blood, for which they need a supply of insulin. Insulin was in the past always obtained from the pancreas of pigs. This resulted in problems concerning its efficiency and possibility of rejection from the body.

However, due to recent investigations into biological engineering it has been possible to obtain insulin that will not be rejected and is as efficient as human insulin, because indeed it is human insulin, only it is not obtained from humans. Bacterial cells are what is known as Prokayotic cells because they do not have the complex organelles that eukaryotic (e.g. mammalian cells) have. Whereas Eukaryotic cell contain their DNA in a con fined nucleus in the form of chromosomes, Bacteria either keep their DNA free floating in their cytoplasm or as ring shaped strands of DNA called Plasmids.

These Plasmids can be broken apart using a restriction enzyme and then a section of customised DNA can be inserted into the loop of DNA. The bacterium will then start producing the amino acid chain that will eventually be insulin. These Bacteria will be grown in huge numbers so that very much insulin is produced.