In todays world, with increasing number of insulin dependent diabetics, it is essential to identify an alternative sources to obtain insulin for treatment.
For the first time, scientists have injected humans with insulin grown in plants, in order to test if plants could provide cheaper source of insulin for diabetics.
Sembiosys Genetics, a Canadian company based in Calgary, Alberta, inserted human insulin genes into safflowers, causing them to make a compound called pro-insulin.
Enzymes acted upon pro-insulin and converted it into a type of insulin called SBS-1000.
Previous tests revealed that SBS-1000 is similar to human insulin, reports New Scientist.
Thus, last month Sembiosys went on to compare its effects with insulin from other sources in healthy volunteers.
Now, the company is planning to release the results later this year.
While majority of insulin products come from bacteria in a fermenter, which turns out to be an expensive process.
Therefore, Sembiosys is hoping that using plants could be cheaper, as they do not need this stage.
Safflowers are not widely grown in North America, and have no wild relatives there.
Thus, there's least risk of genes escaping from insulin-producing safflowers grown there, said Maurice Maloney of Sembiosys.