Where Does Insulin Come From?
Some diabetics have to inject themselves with insulin.
Where do the pharmaceutical companies get it from?
Is it made???
- **Anti-PeTA**Lv 51 decade agoFavorite Answer
Insulin is a hormone produced by beta cells in the pancreas. It has three important functions:1
Allow glucose to pass into cells, where it is used for energy.
Suppress excess production of sugar in the liver and muscles.
Suppress breakdown of fat for energy.
In the absence of insulin, blood sugar levels rise because muscle and fat cells aren't able to utilize glucose for energy. They signal the body that they're "hungry." The liver then releases glycogen, a form of stored glucose. This further increases the blood sugar level. When the blood sugar level reaches about 180 mg/dl, glucose begins to spill into the urine. Large amounts of water are needed to dissolve the excess sugar, resulting in excessive thirst and urination.
Without glucose for energy, the body begins to metabolize protein and fat. Fat metabolism results in the production of ketones in the liver. Ketones are excreted in the urine along with sodium bicarbonate, which results in a decrease in the pH of the blood. This condition is called acidosis. To correct the acidosis, the body begins a deep, labored respiration, called Kussmaul's respiration. Left unchecked, a person in this situation will fall into a coma and die.
Why do I have to inject insulin?
Insulin must be injected because it is a protein. If it were taken orally, the body's digestive system would break it down, rendering it useless.
Where should I store insulin?
Unopened insulin vials should be kept cool. Storing them in the refrigerator will help them last as long as possible. Never freeze insulin, however, as freezing can destroy it. Open insulin, whether vials or pens, can be kept at room temperature for about a month.
Where does insulin come from?
Insulin used by people with diabetes can come from three sources: human (created via recombinant DNA methods), pork, or beef. Beef insulin has been discontinued in the US, and essentially all people who are newly diagnosed are placed on human insulin.
What kinds of insulin are there?
Insulin is classified according to how long the insulin works. There are several types of insulin, listed here in order of rate of action. Be aware that duration of insulin action varies by individual, activity level and location of injection.
Types and Duration of Action of Insulins Available in the United States
Type of Insulin
(Trade Names) Supplier Appearance Begins Working Peak Activity All Gone
NovoLog® / NovoRapid® (insulin aspart) Novo Nordisk Clear 10 - 15 minutes 30 - 60 minutes 4 hours
Apidra® (insulin glulisine) Sanofi Aventis Clear 10 - 15 minutes 30 - 60 minutes 4 hours
Humalog® (insulin lispro) Eli Lilly Clear 10 - 15 minutes 30 - 60 minutes 4 hours
(Humulin, Actrapid, Velosulin®) Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk Clear 30 minutes 2 - 4 hours 4 - 8 hours
(Insulatard®) Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk Cloudy 2 - 4 hours 6 - 8 hours 12 - 15 hours
Lantus® (insulin glargine) Aventis Clear 4 - 6 hours No peak 24+ hours
Levemir® (insulin detemir) Novo Nordisk Clear 1 - 2 hours 2 - 12 hours
(mild, varies by dose) Up to 24 hours
(varies by dose)
Pre-Mixed (Action Varies)
70/30 or 50/50 are common mixes Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk Cloudy 30 minutes Varies 18 - 24 hours
75/25 Eli Lilly Cloudy 10-15 minutes Varies 12 - 15 hours
NovoLog Mix 70/30
70/30 Novo Nordisk Cloudy 10-15 minutes Varies 10 - 12 hours
Adapted from Understanding Insulin-Dependent Diabetes, 10th Edition by H. Peter Chase, M.D. and drug company data.
LENTE and ULTRALENTE insulins have been discontinued by Eli Lilly as of July 2005.
Production of Insulin in the Body
The creation of insulin in the beta cells of the pancreas is a two step procedure. Beta cells first produce preproinsulin. Preproinsulin is cleaved to create proinsulin, which is further cleaved to produce equal amounts of insulin and C-peptide. Endogenous (self-produced) insulin has a half-life of about four minutes in the bloodstream. C-peptide lasts about 30 minutes. By measuring the amount of C-peptide in the blood, scientists can determine the amount of insulin produced by the pancreas.2
In people who do not have diabetes, the pancreas stores about 200 units of insulin. The average basal rate for adults is one to two units per hour. After meals, insulin secretion increases to four-to-six units per hour.3
For More Information
Insulin questions and insulin analog questions from the Diabetes Team
Clinical Practice Recommendations: Insulin Administration by the American Diabetes Association
Insulin Treatment In Type 1 Diabetes.
Long-term Intervention Studies Using Insulin In Patients With Type 1 Diabetes.
How Long Should Insulin Be Used Once a Vial Is Started?
Avoiding Insulin Errors. Also available in PDF format.
Insulin errors--abbreviations will get U in trouble examines the importance of double-checking your insulin vials.
Insulin from Insulin-Dependent Diabetes in Children, Adolescents and Adults by Ragnar Hanas, M.D.
The 1500 Rule shows how far your blood sugar is likely to drop per unit of short-acting insulin
Insulin: The Facts by the Canadian Diabetes Association
The Protein Data Bank has a 3-D graphical view of an insulin hexamer.
CME Courses Related to Insulin
Advances in insulin therapy
Optimizing insulin regimens in type 1 diabetes
Novel insulins and strict glycemic control
The changing model of insulin use in type 2 diabetes
Lantus time activity profile
Time Activity Profiles of Novo Nordisk insulins
Time Activity Profiles of Lilly insulins
Humalog® for Diabetes Educational Materials
Lilly To Discontinue Four Insulin Products (July 2005)
The Discovery of Insulin explores the work of Canadians Banting, Best, Colip and Macleod
The dLife TV production History of Insulin recounts the discovery of insulin and how it changed the lives of people with type 1 diabetes.
The History of Insulin, part of the Diabetic Medical Equipment History web site, offers an overview of the history of insulin.
Animal Sourced Insulins
IDF Position Statement on Animal, Human and Analogue Insulins.
Beef Insulin FAQ from the FDA has information about importing beef insulin for personal useSource(s): http://www.diabetes123.com/d_0n_110.htm
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- 1 decade ago
poohgirlMD is correct; insulin is made synthetically in the lab. Originally, however, insulin given to diabetics had been taken from other species (primarily cows or pigs) as insulin from these sources is nearly identical to human insulin, and works in the same way (they first tried this in the 1920's - and got the Nobel Prize for it!). However, these sources aren't as pure and patients sometimes had allergic reactions to the "non-insulin" impurities (although the purity is much better today than it used to be). Today, however, pretty much all insulin distributed in the US (and some other countries) is a synthetic human insulin that is made in the lab by "tricking" bacteria into growing it for us, and then the pure human insulin can be extracted.Source(s): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insulin and way too many physiology classes
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- Kelly RLv 51 decade ago
Yes they make it as a diabetic is unable to produce it in their own bodies. Our pancreas secretes insulin to regulate the amount of sugar we have in our blood
- C JLv 61 decade ago
If I recall correctly, the pancreas makes natural insulin, but the phamaceutical companies make it synthetically.
- 1 decade ago
Yes it is synthetically made using recombinant DNA to make human insulin.