In June 1996, Eli Lilly had an insulin type drug which they called Humalog approved after several years of testing on more than 2900 patients. Humalog was developed for the treatment of both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes and it has been shown to act faster than normal human insulin in reducing sugar levels after a meal.
Humalog is a mimic of natural insulin, and was developed using recombinant DNA technology. Naturally occurring insulin has the amino acids lysine and proline at two specific locations of the protein molecule (positions 28 and 29 on the B-chain). What scientists found was that by swapping the lysine and proline at these positions, the insulin maintained its effectiveness, but absorption was accelerated.
These two amino acids – lysine and proline give Humalog its common name LysPro, although the spelling Lispro is now used so that it is often referred to as insulin lispro.
Whereas normal insulin takes around half an hour to start working, peaks at around 3-4 hours, and then continues lowering blood sugar levels for up to 8 hours, Humalog begins working much more quickly (because of the faster absorption) at around 15 minutes, and Humalog peaks at around one and a half hours, and is gone in about 3 hours.
You may also hear about another insulin analog called Novolog. Novolog is also a faster acting insulin (faster than Humalog), but is made by Novo Nordisk.
Humalog can be obtained in vials, cartridges and convenient prefilled and re-useable insulin pens for injection under the skin (including by insulin pumps). Humalog Insulin pens are easy to use. Prime the pen by holding down the dose knob to that insulin comes out (to remove air bubbles), select the dose on the Insulin pen by turning the dose knob, cleanse the site of injection with an alcohol swab, insert the needle into the site of injection, and hold the dose knob down for 5 seconds.
Humalog comes as zinc-insulin lispro crystals dissolved in liquid. Humalog Mix25 is also available in some countries, which is a 25 percent insulin lispro and 75 percent NPL (intermediate acting insulin).
Advantages of faster-acting insulins?
Whereas traditional insulin injections need to be administered 45 minutes before a meal, Humalog offers diabetics the chance to take their insulin as they start eating their meals, since the action time of Humalog matches the time taken to eat most meals. For small children and people who are very busy, this gives them a lot more freedom.
If you want to switch to lispro insulin, you should talk with your doctor about it and the possible side-effects like low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) which can be a side-effect, especially when you are getting use to a new form of insulin. Low blood sugar can manifest itself as headaches, nausea, confusion, drowsiness, weakness, blurred vision, sweating, tremors etc.
Changing insulin therapy needs to be done carefully and under strict guidance of your doctor.