Plant Insulin

Insulin from genetically modified plants. To meet the rising demand for insulin, a biotechnology company called SemBioSys Genetics, Inc., of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, is developing plants that are genetically modified to make insulin. In the January 2006 issue of Plant Biotechnology Journal, researchers from the company reported on genetically modifying a plant called Arabidopsis thaliana to make insulin. Through genetic alteration, they caused significant amounts of human precursor insulin to develop in the seeds (0.13% of the total seed protein) and then treated it with enzymes to make a product identical to human insulin. They tested the synthesized insulin in mice and in a mammalian cell culture system and found that it behaved chemically like real human insulin.

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