Safflower is one of the worlds largest crops. In the past it has been used to make oil and even cosmetics, but presently, scientists plan to use it to supply the world with plant based insulin. It seems that genetic engineering could be on the right track with this one.
According to reports, scientists in Canada are creating a plant based insulin made from safflower to alleviate the cost of insulin and create less of a demand for those who live with diabetes. To produce the insulin, scientists inserted the insulin gene into the safflower in order for the flower to produce insulin through it’s seed. Once the plant produces it’s seed, the seed will then be ground up , the oil extracted, and the insulin will be harvest for human use.
Dr. Morley Hollenburg, a scientist working on this project states that “they have found that the plant produced insulin works as well as the traditional insulin injections. They maintain that the plant insulin is identical to insulin produced in the human pancreas. Though the plant insulin is called SBS-100 it has been affectionately called “prairie insulin.” Source
Although this sounds like something out of a science fiction novel; it is real, and the high demand for insulin is real. This method, which is the cheapest production method to date, could reduce the expense of this disease significantly. Can this flower produce enough insulin to help around the world? According to the team of scientists handling this project, the answer is yes. They state that 16,000 acres of prairie insulin will meet the worldwide demand. In fact, scientists are estimating 2.2 pounds of insulin can be harvested per acre of flower. The prairie insulin is still undergoing tests, but could be on the market very soon.
Diabetes is a worldwide medical issue, and insulin is in high demand. If a emergency situation arose, the demand for insulin would skyrocket. How interesting that a small flower could help save lives around the world. Although it is still in the testing phase, it could be well on it’s way to being a medical breakthrough.