Can't make insulin? That might not be a problem, according to Dr. Roger Unger, the lead researcher on a mouse study out of UT Southwestern Medical Center. As Dr. Unger stated in a press release, his findings "suggest that if there is no glucagon, it doesn't matter if you don't have insulin....In adulthood, at least with respect to glucose metabolism, the role of insulin is to control glucagon. And if you don't have glucagon, then you don't need insulin...If diabetes is defined as restoration of glucose homeostasis to normal, then this treatment can perhaps be considered very close to a ‘cure.' "
Xenotransplantation ("zee-no-transplantation") may sound like something from a space invasion novel, but it's actually the practice of transplanting organs, cells, or tissues from one animal species into another. With scientific advances taking place so rapidly and with so many patients desperate for organ transplants, it seems plausible (and pretty likely) that one day xenotransplantation will be commonplace.
INDIANAPOLIS, July 21 - Eli Lilly and company today announced that it has begun limited testing in healthy human volunteers of biosynthetic human insulin produced by recombinant DNA technology. The company also announced that it has started construction of the world’s first manufacturing facilities—at a cost of $40 million—to employ recombinant DNA technology to produce the biosynthetic human insulin.
Beef-pork insulin will soon disappear in the United States, leaving thousands of people with diabetes without the insulin they feel is essential to their lives. Ever since insulin manufacturers Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk announced that they would no longer sell beef-pork insulin, American activists have been fighting to import it from the United Kingdom and Brazil, where it is still made and widely available. The activists work on behalf of those who say that human insulin causes side effects in them, the most frequently reported being that they no longer get any physical warning when their blood sugars drop.
Christine Klemp of West Bend, Wisconsin, received a shock when she opened her box of insulin on August 16. A message printed in red ink said, "This insulin will be discontinued. Contact your physician to change to another insulin." Klemp was horrified, because this particular insulin (Iletin I beef-pork) is the only insulin that works well for her. "My life is about to come to an end. I just could not believe this was happening."
When human insulin first appeared on the market it was thought to be a "special" insulin and the beef/pork insulin that I had taken for years was termed "standard" insulin. A lot has changed since those days. What was once thought to be the standard is now in danger of being pulled from the market.
The British Diabetic Association's (BDA's) insulin campaign is committed to securing choice for people with diabetes for the kind of insulin that they use. The BDA is therefore committed to securing long-term availability of animal and human insulins, and provision of animal insulins in pen cartridges.
The American Diabetes Association recognizes patients' concerns with the discontinuation of mixed beef/pork insulin production in the United States. Patients need and deserve adequate education and assistance as they switch to either pure pork or human insulin. We strongly urge insulin-producing companies to recognize these concerns as well, and take steps necessary to give providers the tools to help their patients make this transition.
(Our) survey results indicate that for some people, changing insulins has a negative impact on their health, well-being and quality of life. People need more information as to the reasons for changing their insulin and they need to have the choice. They need the support of their physicians and their diabetes health care teams during this time of change-over. The (Canadian) National Advocacy Committee is committed to advocating for the continuation of beef/pork insulins for those whose health, well-being or quality of life will be affected by the change.
There is good news for people in the U.K. who are unsatisfied with the lack of animal insulins. CP Pharmaceuticals of Wrexham, England is now producing beef and pork insulins in cartridges for use with a free pen injection device as well as the normal 10 ml vials.
The future of animal insulin looks grim. Now that 90 percent of people with type I diabetes are taking human insulin, no one denies that the era of animal insulin may be coming to a close. But for those who have come to depend on it, the availability of animal insulin is vital.
How do you get a giant pharmaceutical company to listen? Make a lot of noise, say the founders of three patient advocate groups that formed when animal insulins were pulled from the market in Europe and North America.
There has been much debate in recent years surrounding the use of animal vs. human insulin. Since the introduction of human insulin over 10 years ago, the reputation of animal insulin has taken a beating. Critics have derided it as an antiquated, impure and a less desirable alternative, and in many countries it has been taken off the market completely. This trend, however, may be unwarranted and depriving some people of an insulin which suits them best. New research is answering many questions about this controversy.
In response to the proposed removal of animal insulin from the market in the next few years, the Bellagio Group, an international professional group sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation in New York, gathered in Bellagio Italy on April 8 to discuss what actions should be taken. The result is this document which they have issued to the World Health Organization and other public health agencies worldwide. The report is a set of guidelines for the use and value of animal insulin.
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