19.1: Prelude to Nucleic Acids
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Following the initial isolation of insulin in 1921, diabetic patients could be treated with insulin obtained from the pancreases of cattle and pigs. Unfortunately, some patients developed an allergic reaction to this insulin because its amino acid sequence was not identical to that of human insulin. In the 1970s, an intense research effort began that eventually led to the production of genetically engineered human insulin—the first genetically engineered product to be approved for medical use. To accomplish this feat, researchers first had to determine how insulin is made in the body and then find a way of causing the same process to occur in nonhuman organisms, such as bacteria or yeast cells. Many aspects of these discoveries are presented in this chapter on nucleic acids.