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"From Farm to Formulation: The Evolution of Insulin Extraction"



In the early days of insulin therapy, before the advent of synthetic insulin production, insulin was extracted from animals, primarily from the pancreases of pigs and cows.



The process involved several steps:


  1. Sourcing of Pancreases: The pancreases were obtained from abattoirs, where animals were slaughtered for meat production.

  2. Pancreas Preparation: The pancreases were removed from the animals and transported to facilities where the extraction process would take place.

  3. Extraction of Insulin: The extracted pancreas tissue was then ground or minced to release the insulin-containing cells.

  4. Chemical Extraction: Various chemical methods were employed to isolate insulin from the pancreatic tissue. This typically involved the use of acid and alcohol to break down the tissue and precipitate the insulin.

  5. Purification: The crude insulin extract obtained from the chemical extraction process was then purified using techniques such as filtration, chromatography, and crystallization to remove impurities and isolate the insulin molecule.

  6. Formulation: Once purified, the insulin was formulated into different types of insulin preparations suitable for therapeutic use. This could include regular insulin, intermediate-acting insulin, or long-acting insulin formulations.



While animal-derived insulin played a crucial role in managing diabetes for many decades, its use has declined significantly since the development of recombinant DNA technology, which allows for the production of synthetic human insulin. Today, most insulin used for diabetes treatment is produced through genetic engineering techniques, offering improved purity, consistency, and reduced risk of allergic reactions compared to animal-derived insulin.

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