Prior to 1978, insulin for human use was purified from animal sources, commonly pigs or dogs. It was the work conducted by researchers at Genentech and City of Hope Medical Research Centre that would provide the progression away from the necessity for animals to produce insulin by successfully synthesising ‘human-insulin’. By editing the DNA of E.coli to produce the insulin protein in the human analogue, it could then be synthesised much more quickly, at a fraction of the cost, and without the requirement to harvest the pancreases of animals.

For more information visit the Genentech webpage.