There are currently 3 Types of Insulin available in the UK. Then within each type there are a variety of insulin’s, which differ in the way they act and/or how long they last.
Human Synthetic Insulin
Genetically Modified (GM) Synthetic Analogues.Animal insulin
is extracted from the pancreases of dead pigs (Porcine Insulin) and cattle (Bovine / Beef Insulin). Following extraction they are highly purified. Animal insulin is the oldest type of insulin in use.
However……in the 1920’s to overcome the shortage of beef insulin whale (as in the large mammals that swim in the sea not the country) insulin was also manufactured.
Examples in use today: Hypurin Porcine & Bovine Insulin, Hypurin Bovine Lente & Hypurin Bovine Protamine Zinc Insulin (PZI).Human Synthetic Insulin
extracted from dead humans!
It is made in the laboratory using recombinant DNA technology based on the DNA structure of insulin that human pancreases secrete.
Human insulin is grown in the lab inside common bacteria. The bacteria Escherichia coli or E-Coli is by far the most widely used type of bacterium, but yeast cells are also used.
Human synthetic insulin was developed to make insulin more available world wide.
There were concerns that the supply for insulin globally would outstrip the supply of animal insulin, which has in fact not happened.
Examples in use today: Actrapid, Humalin I, Insulatard, InsumanGM Synthetic Analogues
The newest kids on the block! Manufactured in the laboratory by modifying the chemical structure of human synthetic insulin so that the resulting compound has different chemical properties to human synthetic insulin. Insulin analogues are therefore man made or artificial products cultivated from deactivated e-coli or bakers yeast cells.
Examples in use today: Apidra, Novorapid, Humalog, Lantus, Levemir
Insulin is like a string of beads and the way in which the beads are linked together and more significantly how they come apart denotes the mode of action for each of the respective types thus some insulin’s begin acting very quickly after injecting and other insulin’s take longer to work.
Some insulin are combined so the short acting & the longer acting component of the insulin are mixed together such as Novomix (analogue), Humalog Mix (analogue), Mixtard (human), Humalin M3 (human), Porcine 30/70 mix (animal).
Human synthetic insulin & GM analogues have differences in their amino acid structure whilst animal insulin has the nearest amino acid structure to human (non synthetic) insulin.