Insulin Production Using Bacteria

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Usually bacteria are considered to be harmful for human lives but the same bacteria can be used in a number of beneficial ways. Bacteria can cause diseases and spoil food but it could also be used for creating life saving elements like insulin. Multiple biochemical uses of bacteria are there like their uses in chemical, microbial mining, and various other elements. The most important use perhaps is in genetic engineering.

Genetic engineering is the manipulation of genes. It is also called recombinant DNA technology. In genetic engineering, pieces of DNA or genes are introduced into a host by means of a carrier (vector) system. The foreign DNA becomes a permanent feature of the host, being replicated and passed on to daughter cells along with the rest of its DNA. Bacterial cells are transformed and used in production of commercially important products. The examples are production of human insulin used against diabetes... (Source: Walsh G (2005). "Therapeutic insulin and their large-scale manufacture. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 67 (2): 1519.)

Bacteria can also be bioengineered for production of therapeutic proteins using biotechnology techniques. Such productions are insulin, antibodies, and growth factors. It has got remarkable ability to degrade multiple types of organic compounds and it is also used in waste processing as well as bioremediation. Insulin is essential for treatment of harmful disease like diabetes. (Source: Graumann K, Premstaller A (2006). "Manufacturing of recombinant therapeutic proteins in microbial systems." Biotechnol J 1 (2): 16486.)
Organisms causing disease are known as pathogens. Pathogenic bacteria create diseases in animals as well as in plant. Existing in normal flora on skin some of them causes problems for human intestines as they imbalance the immune system in human anatomy. (Source: Liese A, Filho M (1999) Production of fine chemicals using bicatalysis Curr Opin). Saprotrophic bacteria often attack and decompose organic matters and creates problem by contaminating the food and such products including milk and products. (Source: Jackson RW 2009 Plant Pathogenic Bacteria: Genomics and Molecular Biology- Caister Academic Press)

Insulin deficiency does not only affect men alone but also can affect very adversely their female counterparts as well. For instance the insulin deficiency is causing alarming rise in Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS. Progesterorne levels always remain low in PCO. Ovulation occurs infrequently or does not occur at all. It is widely believed that such situation is result of insulin deficiencies. More often than not reversing the IR has caused such symptoms disappear with resumption of ovulation. In general PCO is one of the most prevalent reproductive problems found in the younger girls and women. Rate of affect is nearly 5 to 10%. Main reasons for such problems are insulin resistance.

Usually such insulin resistance will result in weight gain and in addition blood sugar problems, high triglycerides as well as high androgens. High level of blood sugar will lead to high insulin that in turn will lead to high insulin. People suffering from high androgens will have excess hair, weight problems, ovarian function problems, and acne. One can even develop heart disease with them. Other health hazards are often low levels of progesterone as ovulation does not take place and therefore only half of the cycle is completed. Drop in neurotransmitters as well as hormone levels could also create problem. (Source: The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 2001, Vol. 86, No. 6 2453-2455 Low Grade Chronic Inflammation in Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)

With reversal of the insulin levels the turn lowers androgen levels. It will prevent the suppression of ovarian function. Experiments helped that B vitamin inositol helps controlling insulin resistance. Since people with Type 1 diabetes are unable to produce insulin, it is necessary for them receive regular insulin shots. For many years this insulin came from the pancreatic cells of cows and pigs. In recent years though, it has come from bacteria! Since bacteria do not naturally produce or use insulin, it was necessary to use recombinant DNA techniques to insert the human insulin gene into bacteria. Here is how it works. Processes that are used for insulin production using bacteria include gene isolation. Beginning with mRNA from insulin producing cells it is thereafter transmitted into cDNA using the reverse transcriptase that results in producing DNA copy of the insulin gene. Thereafter the process is creating plasmid vector those are circular DNA segments that is found in bacteria. Advantages of finding these elements are that they are independent of the chromosomes as well as capable of replication. For cutting across the two strands of DNA leaving loose ends to which the cDNA can be attached, connecting plasmid DNA with human insulin cDNA helps the process of bacteria use for insulin. Finally the plasmid is sealed using the legation enzymes. After such treatment the plasmid becomes ready for insertion into bacterial host.

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