With the highest growth rates for diabetes often occurring in less prosperous countries in Asia, the price of insulin is a major factor in treating diabetes. More than 285 million people have the metabolic disorder around the world, but in India there are 50 million diabetics, making it the country with the most people affected by the disease.
However, Germany also has the highest prevalence in the population in Europen, with twelve per cent. In a new collaboration between scientists in India and Germany, a study has developed a method to produce cheaper insulin. The research has been published in an open access online research magazine Microbial Cell Factories, to help make it available to all and so that the medicine can be produced in an affordable way for those who live in poorer countries, where the cost of buying insulin is often prohibitive.
The researchers developed a new procedure to increase the yield of an insulin precursor from which the actual insulin can be obtained, which brings down costs. Human insulin is currently produced as recombinant protein in two ways, either involving the production of the insulin precursor using the bacterium Escherichia coli as expression host, or using the well-known baker’s yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
This latter is the route used by this new approach, where the insulin produced can be used normally and is identical to human insulin. The researchers are also currently examining ways of producing a vaccine against dengue fever using the same system.

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