The production of insulin by fermentation, 1986.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This oil painting by Alan Stones shows the interior of the Pilot Plant Fermenter Room at Dista Products plant at Speke, Liverpool. In 1981 this became the first plant in the world to use genetically-manipulated bacteria in the production of medicines, in this case human insulin. Diabetes results from a lack of insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas, which controls blood sugar levels. The discovery that animal insulin could replace mising human insulin, and restore diabetics to health, was made in 1921-1922 by Frederick Banting (1891-1941) and Charles Best (1899-1978). Dista Products was an Eli Lilly subsidiary.