Denver Biolabs: Colorado's Community Biospace
Supporting citizen science through open community-based synthetic biology education
iGEM 2016 Denver Biolabs Project:
An oxytocin diagnostic toolkit and
biotools for use in low-resource environments
Health clinics in resource-poor settings face significant challenges with quality and standardization of medications. Our project uses yeast to detect the presence of a specific medication, oxytocin – a naturally occurring hormone and medication that prevents postpartum hemorrhage during childbirth – the leading cause of maternal mortalities worldwide. Unrefrigerated oxytocin has a half-life of ~3 minutes, and only 8% of samples tested in a 2012 study in Ghana were kept at the appropriate temperature. Expired, low-quality, and unavailable medications are common occurrences throughout the developing world, but little is known about the impact on maternal outcomes due in part to the lack of low-cost diagnostic tests. Our interdisciplinary community lab has also built many of the tools we use in our lab every day emphasizing our commitment and motivation to continue working on creating robust low-cost biological tools and systems that can be deployed and used in economically underdeveloped areas.