Forming a team
The iGEM team from last year organised the selection of the current team and we all met for the first time. Over the Christmas vacation we began to brainstorm potential ideas and talked to the public to identify issues that people wanted to be addressed.
We begin to investigate the feasibility of 3 potential ideas: tackling antibiotic resistance through bacterial conjugation, developing a probiotic treatment for Wilson’s Disease, and using a molecular circadian clock system for diurnal hormone release.
Idea to the vote
Based on public desire for novel medical treatments, we decide that our track will be therapeutics and we confirm that our final project will investigate a probiotic treatment for Wilson’s Disease.
We meet with Dr Garry Brown, a medical lecturer with prior experience in the treatment of Wilson’s Disease. He confirms that lack of innovation with regards to the development of novel treatments has resulted in the continued use of medicines that patients are dissatisfied with. Following this, we begin an in-depth literature review to determine how we might develop a probiotic treatment based on the expression of copper-chelating proteins.
Insight from patients' perspective
We talk to Valerie Wheater, treasurer of the Wilson's Disease Support Group and Wilson's Disease patient. She highlights 3 main limitations associated with current treatments: side effects, high dosage frequency, and price. She expresses the general desire among patients for a longer term treatment. We alter our project design to address these concerns; most significantly, we decide to use copper-sensitive promoters to drive expression.
Dry Lab & Human Practices starts
We begin modelling our system and alter certain aspects of our genetic circuitry in response to initial predictions, this includes designing feedback iterations of our initial promoters.
In addition, we begin outreach activities and host summer school events.
Wet Lab starts
Work begins in the lab, as we start to clone our constructs.
Sensitivity measurement of promoters
We start collecting data on the sensitivity of our promoters using spectrophotometry, flow cytometry, and microscopy.
Test on chelators and beads
We carry out copper assays to characterise the chelation ability of our copper-chelating proteins. We also carry out bead experimentation following discussions with patients over a possible delivery method for our bacteria.
Wiki Freeze and the Giant Jamboree!
We finalise our project and pitch our idea.