The prevalence of diagnosed endocrinological disorders has increased during the 20th century and into the 21st century. These disorders interfere in the day to day lives of those who have them. A common disorder of the endocrine system is diabetes mellitus, type 1 and type 2. The treatments for these illnesses, particularly in the case of hormone deficiency are very dependent on hormone replacement. While there have been many treatment methods for diabetes used over the years, the use of biotechnology like recombinant DNA technology has revolutionized and standardized the treatments allowing patients better outcomes and more overall satisfaction.
Blood Glucose, the Pancreas and Insulin
In order for the body to maintain homeostatic levels of energy, blood glucose regulation is essential. Glucose is one of the body’s principal fuels. It is an energy-rich monosaccharide sugar that is broken down in our cells to produce adenosine triphosphate (Bliss, 1982). In the small intestine, glucose is absorbed into the blood and travels to the liver via the hepatic portal vein (Bliss, 1982). The hepatocytes absorb much of the glucose and convert it into glycogen, an insoluble polymer of glucose. Glycogen, which is stored in the liver and skeletal muscles, can easily be reconverted into glucose when blood-glucose levels fall (Bliss, 1982). All of the body’s cells need to make energy but most can use other fuels such as lipids. Neurons; however, rely almost exclusively on glucose for their energy (Bliss, 1982). This is why the maintenance of blood-glucose levels is essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system.
Insulin is released when the β cells of the islets of langerhans in the pancreas detect an increase in blood sugar levels (Bliss, 1982). Insulin’s release is also stimulated by increased levels of amino acids and acetylcholine denoting activation of the parasympathetic nervous system (Bliss, 1982). Both of these things signify digestion, which is usually responsible for increases in blood sugar. Insulin stimulates cells, especially adipose and muscle cells, to take up glucose from the blood. Insulin is also involved the promotion of glycogenesis, a process that converts glucose into glycogen for storage on the liver and skeletal muscle, and the inhibition of lipolysis, a process that breaks down lipids to release energy (Bliss, 1982). Insulin encourages the formation of protein from amino acids in the liver and skeletal muscle, the formation triglycerides from fatty acids in the liver, skeletal muscle and adipose tissue and the formation of triglycerides from glycerol, an alcohol form of glucose in the adipose tissue (Bliss, 1982). Overall, insulin works to lower blood sugar and store energy.
Diabetes affects more than 20 million Americans. In addition, over 40 million Americans have pre-diabetes (which often develops before type 2 diabetes). Diabetes is, in essence, insulin deficiency or insulin...