Globally, there are millions of people with diabetes that don’t have access to insulin. In the US, many patients have to ration the vital drug due to soaring prices, the average of which has nearly tripled between 2002 and 2013.
Interestingly enough, there a group of biohackers that have recently come up with a plan to produce the medicine more cheaply. The team of scientists is part of a scheme called Open Insulin Project, which is based in Oakland, California. They are working on a newer, simpler, less expensive way to make insulin. The team believes that insulin should be freely available to anybody who needs it, and with this in mind, they have set out on a quest to develop the first open protocol for ‘do-it-yourself’ insulin, a manual to produce the vital drug on a small scale with quite simple means.
So far, the group of chemists has managed to genetically engineer yeast cells so that they are able to produce a precursor of insulin, called proinsulin. If they manage to convert proinsulin into insulin, the scientists can begin to upscale the process, increasing the amount of insulin they produce in a single batch.
At the Optimist Daily, we’re not necessarily encouraging people to go out and make their own medical drugs. But the Open Insulin Project does show us that people are not going to put up with overpriced treatments and that it’s possible to work together in search of better solutions. For an inside look into the Open Insulin Project, just click here