From The Louisville Courier-Journal:
WICHITA, Kan. Synthetic human insulin was injected into a 37-year-old Wichita homemaker yesterday at the start of the first long-term study of the new. product. Sandy Atherton, a recently diagnosed diabetic, became the first diabetic., to receive the insulin, which is made with recombinant DNA. She led a test group of five patients. They received the insulin from Dr. Richard A. Guthrie of the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita. A total of 50 patients eventually will take part in the test. A smaller evaluation was done in Europe on healthy people earlier this year. Guthrie said the product is identical to insulin produced in the human body but lacks the impurities of insulin' extracted from cattle and swine pancreases. An. estimated 1 million American diabetics need daily insulin shots to stayalive. The disease is caused by a deficiency of insulin, the hormone-like substance that controls the level of sugar in the blood. A few diabetics become severely allergic to impurities in regular insulin and their allergic reactions can even be fatal, Guthrie said. The recombinant DNA insulin, made by Ell Lilly and Co. in Indianapolis, was developed in 1978 by Gen-entech Inc. of Calif. Scientists took the gene for human insulin and inserted it into bacteria, causing the bacteria to become like tiny factories manufacturing the vital hormone. However, biosynthetic insulin is not the only non-human source of pure human insulin. A Danish firm recently announced a new process that makes human insulin out of pork insulin by changing its chemical structure.