Genetically engineered insulin analogs: Diabetes in the new millenium

Zoltan Vajo, William C. Duckworth

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

75 Citations (Scopus)


Tight glucose control is essential to minimize complications in diabetic patients. However, the pharmacokinetic characteristics of the currently available rapid-, intermediate-, and long-acting preparations of human insulin make it almost impossible to achieve sustained normoglycemia. Until recently, improvements in insulin formulations were seriously limited as advances were only achieved in insulin purity, species, and characteristics of the retarding agent. The availability of molecular genetic techniques opened new windows to create insulin analogs by changing the structure of the native protein and to improve the therapeutic properties. The first clinically available insulin analog, Lispro, confirmed the hopes by showing that improved glycemic control can be achieved without an increase in hypoglycemic events. This requires, however, optimal basal insulin replacement, either by multiple daily injections of neutral protein Hagedorn (NPH) insulin or by insulin pump. Evidence suggests that short-acting insulin analogs would be better matched by a true basal insulin than by the erratically absorbed and rather short, acting NPH insulin. Therefore, future availability of long-acting analogs raises the hope to realize the true potential benefits of the currently available short-acting analog, Lispro, and of those still awaiting approval. The introduction of new short-acting and the first truly long-acting analogs, the development of analogs with increased stability, less variability and perhaps selective action will help to develop more individualized treatment strategies targeted to specific patient characteristics and to achieve further improvements in glycemic control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalPharmacological reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2000


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology

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