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An insulin analog is an altered form of insulin, different from any occurring in nature, but still available to the human body for performing the same action as human insulin in terms of glycemic control. Through genetic engineering of the underlying DNA, the amino acid sequence of insulin can be changed to alter its ADME (absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion) characteristics. Officially, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) refers to these as "insulin receptor ligands", although they are more commonly referred to as insulin analogs.
These modifications have been used to create two types of insulin analogs: those that are more readily absorbed from the injection site and therefore act faster than natural insulin injected subcutaneously, intended to supply the bolus level of insulin needed at mealtime (prandial insulin); and those that are released slowly over a period of between 8 and 24 hours, intended to supply the basal level of insulin during the day and particularly at nighttime (basal insulin). The first insulin analog approved for human therapy (insulin Lispro rDNA) was manufactured by Eli Lilly and Company.