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The trials and tribulations of producing the first genetically engineered drug


Fifty years ago, the determination of the structure of DNA sparked a genetic revolution. Here, I give a personal perspective of the challenges involved in the development of the first biological therapeutic resulting from this revolution: recombinant human insulin.

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Figure 1: Bacterial production of human insulin.


I am fond of telling my closest friends that I have had two great loves in my life. One is biomedical research, and the other is my wife of fifty-four years, Alwyn. I wish to acknowledge her love and support during all of these years. At Eli Lilly I wish to acknowledge the following associates in this project: Drs J. Paul Burnett, Ronald Chance, David Dennen, Richard DiMarchi, Alan Dinner, Bruce Frank, John Galloway, John Marsden, Max Marsh, William L. Muth, Eldon Shuey, Edward Smithwick, and Mr John Keho, and their associates.

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Encyclopedia of Life Sciences

Frederick Grant Banting

History of biotechnology

History of insulin

John James Richard Macleod

Paul Berg

American Association for Cancer Research

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Johnson, I. The trials and tribulations of producing the first genetically engineered drug. Nat Rev Drug Discov 2, 747–751 (2003).

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