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Synthetic Human Insulin, Denmark, 2000

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People with diabetes must inject insulin to manage their blood sugar levels. They also need to monitor their blood glucose levels, to avoid levels that are too high (hyperglycaemia), or too low (hypoglycaemia). This synthetic ‘human’ Actrapid insulin was manufactured by Novo Nordisk. A dose was injected into the abdominal wall to ensure fast absorption into the blood. It is a ‘short-acting’ insulin that quickly delivers a high dose. Frederick Banting (1891-1941) and Charles Best (1899-1978) were Canadian researchers at the University of Toronto. They first isolated insulin in 1921. The only insulin available until the 1960s was sourced from animals.

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Glossary: diabetes

This term refers to any form of metabolic disorder characterized by extreme thirst and excess urine production.

Glossary: insulin

A hormone that causes the body's cells to take up glucose from the blood. (Diabetes is the loss of control of the body's levels of insulin.)

Glossary: materia medica

A Latin medical term sometimes used to refer to medical substances.