Based on WHO (World Health Organization) reports on diabetes, in 2012, an estimated 1.5 million deaths were directly caused by diabetes and it is projected to be one of the leading causes of death in 2030. More than 80% of diabetes deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
Rising to the challenge, a team of biohackers from California, USA, Counter Culture Labs- a community lab-are developing a protocol for open source insulin with hopes of making insulin accessible and affordable for diabetics worldwide thereby giving diabetics from low– and middle-income countries a better prognosis.
Currently there is a variety of insulin available on the market with various acting efficiencies however they are all reportedly guarded by patents. No generic version of insulin is available yet in the market. While there has been calls for the production of generic insulin by the scientific community, the cost of shipping (due to the nature of insulin as it has to be stored in heavy glass containers, preserved in cool conditions, and only has a shelf life of three to six months) and distributing would greatly exceed the cost of manufacturing , it would take an altruistic company with large fund reserves to get generic insulin into the market.
The protocol that has been developed by the Counter Culture Labs team involves inserting an optimised DNA sequence for insulin into E.coli bacteria, the insulin however has to be refined before it can be injected into humans. They beat their own crowd funding goals for this project and are well into stage 1 of their project. Details of their project can be found here : https://experiment.com/projects/open-insulin and you can follow their progress at their blog : http://openinsulin.org/.
The team is also proactively looking into ways of protecting the open status of their work and ensuring that all the protocols they develop and data generated by their research will be freely available in the public domain.