Insulin is a hormone manufactured by the beta cells of the pancreas. It is the principal hormone required for the proper use of glucose (carbohydrate) by the body. Insulin also controls the storage and utilization of amino acids and fatty acids. Insulin lowers blood glucose levels by inhibiting glucose production by the liver.
Insulin is available as purified extracts from beef and pork pancreas and is biologically similar to human insulin. However, these animal source insulins are used less frequently today than in years past. They are being replaced by synthetic insulins, including human insulin or insulin analogs.
Human insulin is derived from a biosynthetic process using strains of Escherichia coli (recombinant DNA, rDNA). Human insulin appears to cause fewer allergic reactions than does insulin obtained from animal sources. Insulin analogs, insulin lispro, and insulin aspart are newer forms of human insulin made by using recombinant DNA technology and are structurally similar to human insulin.
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