Producing human insulin using recombinant DNA, Walter Gilbert

Interviewee: Walter Gilbert. Walter Gilbert talks about the reasons for making insulin with recombinant DNA. (DNAi Location: Manipulation > Production > Players > Walter Gilbert > Why insulin?)

We could take a piece of DNA in principle from a human cell, put it in bacteria and actually get that protein made. As one realized that that was possible, one could then ask well are there any human proteins, which would be of value to make, value to mankind, and insulin was one of the first that one thought of. That one, the problem was that insulin at that time used to treat diabetics, was isolated from pigs or from cows. The sequence of that molecule is a little different than the sequence of humans, therefore one could conjecture maybe it doesn't work quite as perfectly as the human insulin would in humans, and secondly there was a shortage issue, that tons of insulin were being made each year to treat diabetics, and the supply of pig pancreases and cow pancreases was a problem and becoming more and more of a problem, so one could see a shortage and the possibility that the human protein itself would be better.

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