Somatrem and somatropin are trade names for synthetic versions of HUMAN GROWTH HORMONE (Protropin®) that are made by bacteria using recombinant DNA technnology. In March of 1979, D.V. Goeddel, et al of Genentech, announced they had an expression vector (a bacterial cell containing a cDNA plasmid) in E.coli for HGH (Nature 281:544-548, 1979).  The HGH made this way is today sold as Protropin®.  Genentech received FDA approval for Protropin® in October 1985 for the long-term treatment of children who have growth failure due to a lack of adequate endogenous growth hormone secretion. It was Genentech's first commercial product.

  Protropin® (somatrem for injection), is a peptide hormone that has 192 amino acid residues and a MWof about 22,000 daltons. The product contains the identical sequence of 191 amino acids constituting pituitary-derived human growth hormone plus an additional amino acid, methionine, on the N-terminus of the molecule. Protropin® is synthesized in a special laboratory strain of E. coli bacteria, which has been modified by the addition of the gene for human growth hormone production.  Protropin®, given for growth hormone

 Michael W. Davidson and The Florida State University      crystallized Protropin® under a microscope

deficiency, GHD, a pituitary disorder resulting in short stature.  GHD occurs when the production of growth hormone, secreted by the pituitary gland, is disrupted.  Protropin® stimulates skeletal growth in those patients that have a growth hormone deficiency. It is also used for long term treatment of children who have growth failure due to a lack of adequate endogenous growth hormone secretion. An unusual side effects include leukemia, although it has not been firmly established that the blood disease originated from treatment with human growth hormone.      


    1.   A vast Anti-Aging industry has grown up around synthetic HGH and it is a banned substances-2007 and 2008 in international
athletics (
IOC, NCAA, FIFA, etc).  

Initial experiments done with a cDNA piece taken by Peter Seeburg, a post-doctoral student at UCSF in the 1970's who went on to Genentech with "purloined pieces of cDNA", may have lead to the first synthetic gene product and a viable industry of genetic engineering we see today.   UCSF sued for patent infringement and won.   Genentech settled for $200,000,000 in November of 1999.