Who has never suffered from sleep disorders ?
A 2008 report by the INPES, a French public institute, has shown that 45% of the 25-45 year-old population considers that they do not sleep enough. This lack of sleep causes a fair bit of negative impacts : decrease of focus, weakened immune system, cardiovascular disease risk increase ... Even if these statistics are high, today's medical knowledge is not sufficient enough when it comes to healing people who suffer from sleep disorders. A classic example would be sleeping pills for chronic insomnia. However, they only treat the symptoms, not the source. This drew our attention, enough to provoke unanimity for this project within our team.
This year, iGEM Bordeaux aims to study DSIP, a sleep-inducing peptide which seems to be promising for the given dilemma. In order to understand in which mechanisms this peptide is involved, it will be introduced in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans to see the effects on its sleep. Another aspect is to control the nematode's sleep pattern. On the one hand, we want to make a photo-inducible system that can be used on sleep gene promoters. On the other hand, we aim to create a new tool to modify the sleep genes using epigenetics: EpiCRISPR. Based on the CRISPR-CAS9 concept, we want to design it according to many strategies, see more details in the Description part.
Our final goal is to compare the two approaches - the photo-inductible system and the EpiCRISPR system - and see which one would be easy to handle for the C.elegans's sleep control.
Our team has also taken interest in the issue of security and safety in synthetic biology. This field requires the creation of many modified organisms, and their proliferation has to be taken into account and totally under control. The Good Laboratory Practices help researchers to garantee security and protection in the laboratory, and prevent the dissemination of modified organisms.
However, no one is safe from being distracted and committing an error. In these cases, one can wonder how to evaluate the growth of a modified organism in the environment. To answer this question, our team wishes to conceive a computational model to measure the growth and behaviour of bacterial colonies in a given environment. This model aims to analyze if the colonies are likely to survive and determine the percentage of plasmids in the bacterial population.
We would like to thank our sponsors for allowing us to build this project and present it at the 2016 iGEM competition in Boston!