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The Art in Science

Product Image Knitting Insulin

Knitting Insulin

Mariana Rodriguez Ortiz, Research Associate- Schnell Laboratory Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology and Department of Computational Medicine and Biology, University of Michigan Medical School

In Type 1 Diabetes patients, who need to inject themselves frequently with insulin, fibrils of insulin can form at the injection site. This is a rare medical condition termed injection amyloidosis. Insulin can also form fibrils during storage, affecting its pharmacological effectiveness. Fibrils assemble through a molecular knitting process, in which insulin molecules undergo changes in their three-dimensional configuration, closely packing and binding together. The picture is a molecular computer model, built from the crystal structure of the portion of the insulin molecule that is responsible for fibril formation. A better understanding of insulin fibrillation is important to the long-term storage and injection of insulin for the treatment of diabetes.