Look What They've Done

To My Shoes!

SCU_China Project 2016


Foot odor and tinea pedis (athlete's foot) are such common foot diseases. Foot odor can always cause embarrassing trouble in public areas. And tinea pedis (athlete's foot) makes patient’s foot itching, scaling, and redness. A lot of people in Sichuan Province of China suffer from this, which is consistent with our human practice survey result.

Two problems are hard to treat because the diseases are caused by microorganisms. Foot odor is due to the metabolism result of microbiome on foot surface, acetic acid and isovaleric acid contribute most. Tinea pedis is a fungus infection disease, most commonly caused by Trichophyton rubrum, a fungi species originated from Southeast Asia ( However, even though ointment has been developed to inhibit the growth of microorganisms living on our feet, the continuous inhibition ability is not good as expected. The shoes always provide perfect warm and mild environment for microorganisms to hide and revive at proper time on skin.

So SCU-China 2016 design an innovative insole “Comfootable” to deal with it. Two engineered strains E. coli, strain ”Rihanna” and strain “Drake” are living in the insole, to help us to achieve our goal: to inhibit the growth of microorganisms and remove the odor.

Engeneered E.coli Strain


You can stand on my umbrella to ANTI microorganisms.

Antimicrobial peptide CecropinXJ is synthesizing in “Rih……...anna” anytime. When your foot is on the insole, the temperature of your foot induces the temperature sensitive promoter to drive the expression of self-kill gene hokD to lyse the “Rihanna” to release CecropinXJ.

Visit Project “Rihanna” for more.

Engeneered E.coli Strain


Work, work, work, work, you see me I be work with “Rihanna”.

Yes, the insole is “Rihanna” featuring “Drake”. Strain “Drake” includes gene aarC to covert acetic acid into TCA cycle. It also competitively utilizes leucine to prevent the production of isovaleric acid in shoes.

E.coli Enhancement

E. coli odor itself is not that pleasant as well. We use RED to knockout the insole production gene tnaA (tryptophanase) to reduce the odor itself. Insole in shoes is not a wonderful home for microorganisms to grow. We use vitreoscilla hemoglobin (existing part K1321200) to enhance the grow ability of two E. coli strains and get the quantitative measurement result of the Biobrick.


Hydrogen gel + 3D printing provide house for microorganisms to live in. Hydrogen gel has a good ability for making sure the mass transfer, mechanical strength and biocompatibility for E. coli. Guess what, it only cost $3 each insole.