Humulin was the world's first approved genetically engineered human therapeutic. It is insulin that is made by bacteria but chemically and physically identical to insulin produced by a human pancreas. Human insulin is used daily by millions of people who live with diabetes and are unable to make their own insulin. It replaces therapeutic insulin derived from cattle and pigs, both of which have adverse side effects in some people. Insulin has been injected subcutaneously to treat diabetes since 1938.
Insulin pens are more convenient to transport and use than glass vials and syringes which were the only injecting technology available until 1985. They provide repeatedly accurate doses and are discreet to use.
Insulin is a naturally-occurring hormone that is secreted by the pancreas of a healthy person. It controls the amount of glucose in the blood by allowing cells to take glucose from the blood and use it for energy. People who cannot produce insulin have uncontrolled blood sugar which can damage blood vessels, eyes, nerves and kidneys.
Sandra McEwen, Principal Curator, Biosciences and Built Environment, 2013