Hebrew U. Researchers Produce Chemical Insulin that Cuts Frequency of Injections Substantially

Prof. Norman Metanis
Prof. Norman Metanis

A team of researchers from the Institute of Chemistry at Hebrew University, led by Prof. Norman Metanis, developed a new process allowing chemical production with high-efficiency of human insulin and increasing its stability and its effect on the hormonal balance in the human body, compared with insulin produced in other ways.

The hormone’s stability makes it possible to reduce the frequency of injecting it into the body to once every few days, as opposed to a number of injections per day currently. This significant change will affect insulin consumption and improve the quality of life of diabetes sufferers.

The stability of the chemical hormone developed in Prof. Metanis’ laboratory will not only affect the duration of its decomposition in the body, but also its transportation. Today, insulin is sent to various parts of the world in special cooling facilities, which makes it difficult to transfer it to distant countries, including third world countries. The new insulin’s durability will allow simple transport, without special storage instructions and cooling facilities, via normative means of transportation, together with other drugs, without having to assign it special shipments.

This will lower the price of the drug and enable access to weaker populations.

The research results were published in Chemistry: A European Journal (Substitution of an Internal Disulfide Bridge with a Diselenide Enhances both Foldability and Stability of Human Insulin) in May.

The researches wrote that:

“Diabetes mellitus affects nearly one-tenth of the world population, according to the World Health Organization, and its prevalence increase annually. The need to develop new insulin analogues to treat this pandemic led us to choose the current project. We sought to develop a simple method for the preparation of new insulin analogues with particular interest in more stable analogues with extended shelf life. Our collective experience with selenocysteine chemistry, oxidative protein folding, and insulin-analogue design proved to be successful in this case.”

Prof. Metanis’ team included Orit Weil-Ktorza, Nischay Rege, Shifra Lansky, Deborah E. Shalev, Prof. Gil Shoham, and Michael A. Weiss.