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Diabetic patient develops an affordable method of producing insulin

Shared by João Canelhas on 2017-12-08 13:18

About the solution

According to the World Health Organization, more than 420 million people around the world — including over 29 million Americans — have diabetes.
Although insulin had been synthesized long ago, this hormone is one of fewer and fewer drugs for which no generic version is available.

According to an NPR report from 2015, as these more expensive, new drugs became available, the older ones left the market.
Due this the bill for uninsured patients can be several hundred dollars per month — as a result, one Baltimore doctor told NPR that some of his patients had stopped taking the drug altogether, putting their health at risk.

Watching this scenario, DiFranco saw a blog post on do-it-yourself thyroid hormones and met with a researcher who was able to get him up to speed on the chemical aspects of making (hormones) manually and potentially automating the process further down the road.
So DiFranco, cofounder of the Open Insulin Project, and his team started working on a protocol to extract insulin from genetically engineered yeast cells and produce a generic drug at a cost of around $10 for a month's supply.

The project has created a definite buzz, raising nearly $17,000 in a crowdfunding campaign on the science-oriented crowdfunding platform Experiment.
Seeing this results really excited him to get the yeast-produced insulin into circulation, however they need to compete the yeast engineering, figure out a technique for purifying it and then look at the next step — how to set up a low-cost manufacturing operation and get over all the regulatory hurdles.

That would require more money and more organizational sophistication than they have now, but hopefully by then their case will speak for itself and they will be able to prove they have the technology and it is usable. It will not be a for-profit undertaking.

He believes to be able to distribute generic insulin in about three or four years from now, but he hopes he can do it a year or two sooner.
Despite all this DiFranco doesn’t give up and he's convict that by making the market competitive for insulin and eliminating these absurd profit margins, he could contribute to the realignment of incentives in health care.

He and his team are watching people slowly degenerate due to this condition and he's skeptical about whether the economic landscape incentivizes a cure in the short term, but if projects like theirs give people access to drugs, in the long term they could collapse the market and incentivize getting a cure out there.

This solution shall not include mention to the use of drugs, chemicals or biologicals (including food); invasive devices; offensive, commercial or inherently dangerous content. This solution was not medically validated. Proceed with caution! If you have any doubts, please consult with a health professional.

About the author

Anthony DiFranco, born in Berkeley, California, in 1982, is a medical researcher, self-described bio-hacker, and cofounder of the Open Insulin Project. He has Type 1 diabetes since his late twenties. Anthony developed an affordable method of producing insulin.

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