Anthony Di Franco

A crowdfunded biology project byAnthony Di Franco


Thanks Everyone! Onward!

Lab Note #4
Nov 12, 2015

WOW! (again!) You have fully supported our first funding goal! Thanks to everyone who’s backed us and helped out so far. Dave Morin pushed us over our goal last night with a very generous pledge.

We are only one week into our campaign and your enthusiasm for Open Insulin has inspired us. Time for a stretch goal! As our first stretch goal, we plan to develop a second insulin construct, using an entirely different approach. We’ll post the “source code” for this new construct in an upcoming lab note.

Why do we want to try a second novel approach at making insulin? A couple of reasons, really: (a) We do think the first construct is going to work, but ya never know. (b) Likewise, there’s a chance someone might claim our first approach violates some patent left or right. It’s worth hedging our bets with a second approach, especially since it shouldn’t take much to get some initial results. (c) We’ve already talked about it anyway (check this video with Isaac and Patrik, starting at around 20:00), so now we need to get a little closer to “reduction to practice” to keep it out of the hands of companies that might want to patent it out from under us. (d) It’s a cool idea, and we want to try it (duh). (e) This second approach is a little more high risk / high reward: it’ll take a bit more engineering, but it could potentially result in a much greater efficiency in the end.

So what does the additional funding do?

Our goal is to work out a proof-of-concept protocol that takes us through all the steps of making proinsulin, cutting and folding the protein properly, and purifying it sufficiently well that a drug producer could use our protocol as a basis for their development. Our initial $6k goal covered the bare minimum: one idea for making proinsulin. Our first stretch goal will be to make another. (We’re calling both Stage 1.) Beyond that, we get into the crucial cutting and folding steps. That’s where we’ll be doing most of the troubleshooting to get our sequence design innovations to produce an actual functional protein. (Stage 2.) The longer term project stages include:

Stage 1: Proof of Principle (break patent monopolies)

The 2 constructs** (We had originally only planned for 1 construct for $6k the additional $6k will allow us to develop a second construct)

Make the protein 10K (check these numbers)

Genes from IDT / Arcturus

Budget: $12K

Time Frame - 3 to 6 months

Stage 2: Make functional insulin

Check for correct folding

Check for insulin receptor activation

Check against IGF1 receptor activation, which could be a major red flag


Optimize yields

Budget: $200K

Time Frame - 1 year

Stage 3: Get ready for commercialization

Scale up

Deal with FDA

Budget: $1-5M?

Time Frame - 3 to 5 years

Thank you again for your support. We are starting to order our reagents and supplies to begin lab work in the coming weeks. Please continue to share this project.

Open Insulin!

PS: do check us out on Facebook at, and on Twitter @OpenInsulin! Please help us spread the word: friend us, like us, retweet us - thanks!

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