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Total synthesis of human insulin has been reported by biochemists at Brookhaven National Laboratory's Medical Research Center.
The "from scratch" product is believed the first human protein produced in vitro, according to Panayotis G. Katsoyannis, PhD.
When anticipated refinements are made in the more than 200-step process, yield will be sufficient for biochemical studies of insulin in the diabetic state, he told JAMAMedical News.
Changes in the amino acid structure of the protein may be reflected by observable changes in insulin's normal action in the body, he said.
Clinical use of the synthesized product is not feasible at this time, for several reasons.
The human insulin produced at Brookhaven has shown "considerable insulin activity" as judged by a standard animal experiment. Mice are first injected with known milliunits of "normal insulin" to produce hypoglycemia. At various dosages, certain percentages of mice go into convulsions.
Injection of the synthesized material
Synthesis of Human Insulin Reported by Brookhaven Team. JAMA. 1966;195(3):33. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03100030015004