Team:Manchester/Human Practices

Manchester iGEM 2016



Human Practices Banner

Hi everyone!! This is the page for our Human Practices that we have done throughout the summer. Aligned with the requirement for iGEM competition, We were always approaching different society and company to get them in recognising our project and aiming to get suggestion or critism on our project. This allowed us to have a clearer picture in the point of view of the public. We categorised each of the activities that we have to 4 different groups. - Charities, Industries, Outreach and Interview. Click on one of the 4 wheels below to find out more!



Before we launched our project, we conducted an online survey to find out the global trend of alcohol consumption and to see if our project would create an impact in the society. Overall, this survey reflected that our device would help people measure and keep track of their alcohol intake. .

This was the team’s first outreach event! We introduced the concept of using synthetic biology in chemical production to pupils and asked for their opinions on the matter. The general feedback led us to believe that our AlcoPatch may have the potential of being accepted by the public despite having to genetically modify bacteria.

At the Microbiology Society’s annual general conference, we presented the preliminary research we had done into our project. We received feedback from the scientific community on how we can improve the concept design of our product, which then led to the development of our pilot study.

We had a Skype interview with James Morris, the director of Alcohol Academy. He thought that our AlcoPatch would be useful for health professionals, specifically in furthering alcohol brief interventions.

We spoke to Mr.David Lloyd, the CEO of a Canada-based biosensor company, FREDsense. While he thought that our AlcoPatch might be useful for reducing drink driving, he raised concerns about the public acceptance of our genetically modified organism (GMO)-based product. The Cell-free Mechanism, however, may be more acceptable by the public as it does not involve living GMO.

We presented our poster at the forum and gained interest from global researchers. From our discussions, we realised that we had difficulties communicating efficiently to the public, especially on topics beyond our individual area of expertise. So in order for us to understand one another better in this multidisciplinary team, we took part in a ensemble modelling crash course conducted by one of our modellers!

Having spoken on the phone to the Manchester Evening News, they were very interested in the implications of our AlcoPatch. They decided to publish articles about our project in their paper - twice!

We had a discussion with the representatives of this charity to find out if our AlcoPatch would benefit their members. They suggested that our product would be more effective at raising awareness of alcohol consumption rather than preventing it. They proposed that the Cell-free Mechanism would be more practical as it may have longer shelf life, cheaper production costs and only use substances extracted from GMOs.

We pitched our project to Dr. Doherty, the Manager of IBCarb, a networking agency for glyco-scientists. After further talks with IBCarb, we managed to secure the funding for our project - one step closer to the Giant Jamboree!

We set up a crowdfunding page on Here we reached out to our friends and family, introducing our AlcoPatch and asking them to contribute towards our £3000 goal. We also created a video which complemented the information we uploaded regarding our project.

After publicising the AlcoPatch through Manchester Evening News, Heart FM heard about our project and invited us to speak on their national radio show!

We attended an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting where we facilitated a discussion about excessive drinking. After that discussion, we gained insight into the motivations behind excessive drinking, which later influenced our approach towards advertising the AlcoPatch.

We spoke to Sarah Shepherd, the Network Manager of NPRONET, which is a funded network in biotechnology and bioenergy. We reviewed our project and she highlighted the importance of starting the wet lab work early, in order to complete our project on time.

We spoke to Lynn Sheppard (Director) and Dr. Henery (Enterprise Academic Lecturer) of Manchester Enterprise Centre. They educated us in the potential business aspect of our project. They also gave us a few pointers on the entrepreneurship that is needed to produce our AlcoPatch in a real-world context. This led our team to model the cost effectiveness of our proposed prototype.

We deliberated our project with Dr. Flannelly (Network Manager) and Prof. Dickinson (Co-Director) from BioProNet, a network in the field of bioprocessing and biologics . They agreed with how the AlcoPatch would be useful to students like us. However, they raised concerns with the usage of mildly carcinogeneic ABTS dye in our Cell-free Mechanism. It was suggested that we find suitable alternatives to reduce risks to our potential consumers.

We spoke to a local Police Community Support Officer in the area. We asked them for their opinion on how our patch might be of use to the Greater Manchester police force. They gave us some insightful knowledge into the use of breathalysers as well as its limitations with comparison to the potentials of our AlcoPatch.

UK Meetup

This was the team’s chance to meet other like-minded students and share our project experiences we have had during the summer. We gained valuable feedback from other iGEM teams as well as discussing our project with researchers. We also discussed about the societal impacts of scientific research regarding our project.

We had a discussion with Kelly O’Brien, the Head of Department for Drug Support for Children. She gave us insightful knowledge and feedback on our project relevance to patients with an array of alcohol-related issues. She explained that our AlcoPatch would not be beneficial to patients with alcoholism issue. However, if a prototype were to be made, disseminating the AlcoPatch to the public would enable us to gauge its effectiveness in educating the public on their intoxication levels.

We interviewed Andrea Vero, an intellectual property (IP) lawyer from Ward Hadaway law firm, to discuss how to protect our IP rights for the AlcoPatch. We also discussed the potential for patenting our AlcoPatch in the future. They also put us in contact with a patent attorney from Venner Shipley to further discuss the matter.

After our meeting with the IP lawyer, we were directed to speak to Matthew Handley, a patent attorney of Venner Shipley. We deliberated whether it would be realistic to patent our project based on the information we have already disclosed to the public domain.

We spoke to Mark Wojcik, the Chief Technology Officer and the Vice President of Engineering of SCRAM Systems, a US-based ethanol biosensor company. He informed us about how their devices function, and how American policies have shaped the needs of law enforcement with regards to alcohol consumption. He educated us on the factors behind the demand for a product like our AlcoPatch and the marketability of our product in the US.

We met with Carley Freidrich, one of the owners of the family-run business Brightside Brewery. She offered her views on how students may perceive the AlcoPatch and highlighted the possible applications of our patch in the National Health Service. It was brought to attention that breweries in the UK would have no use for our AlcoPatch. However, she suggested that bars and pubs may be interested in our product.

We had a phone interview with Dr. Mukherjee, the Director of the National Clinic for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). We discussed the relevance of the AlcoPatch with reference to his area of work, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. It was concluded that his patients will not benefit from a product as such.