Biologic drugs: High-tech, high costs, high hopes

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Thirty years ago, a typical diabetic “went through” about a pig a week. That was before a synthetic form of insulin was developed and the blood sugar-regulating hormone was mainly extracted from the pancreases of pigs and then purified. The organs were taken to factories by the ton. This titbit is from the German Pharmaceutical Industry Association (BPI). Today, the insulin that comes in vials, pens and pumps and is genetically engineered inside living cells with the help of so-called designer microorganisms. It can be produced, for example, by a yeast cell into which a human gene sequence, co…

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