Sunday, May 20, 2007

A Matter of Perspective

In the 1920's a person with Diabetes could expect to live 1-4 years. The treatment included whiskey and black coffee every two hours for seven days followed by a very strict oatmeal diet. People survived, but only barely. Insulin was costly, involving the destruction of the pancreas, and ultimate death, of many lab animals. The pancreas was destroyed and the insulin was extracted. It wasn't until the late 1970's that recombinant DNA was first discovered. This is a process of taking the DNA of one organism and putting into the DNA of another, recombining DNA. Cool stuff.
This process is pretty easy (doesn't seem that the best advances are always so "simple"?): take a chemical that only breaks DNA at certain point, these are called restriction enzymes. They are "restricted" to what they can do, get it? Find the DNA sequence for human insulin, (on an aside- when it comes to DNA, it's all about the sequence).
The steps:
1. Find sequence. Check.
2. Make restriction enzyme that will cut out that sequence. Check, check.
3. Copy the sequence many times. Got it.
4. Open up the DNA of some harmless E. Coli. Insert sequence for making human insulin. Double check! Roger doger, got it.

Now, take that E. Coli, put it in a Very Clean Vat of Purified Water. Add sugar. After all, even bacteria gotta eat. Keep those babies warm, happy and well fed. And what do Babies like to do more than eat?
Yeeeesssss, they like to shit.
In this case, they are shitting pure, unadulterated bona-fide human fucking Insulin. So good your body can't tell you didn't make it! No allergic reactions. No swelling, no shock.

So sometimes it's a matter of perspective isn't it? One organism's shit is another's lifeboat.

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