Thank you for rewarding us with the iGEMer's Prize!

The Jamboree was a blast, we had so much fun, met and talked to so many of you awesome crazy people and made a lot of new friends. That alone would have been more than enough for us, but you decided to reward us with the iGEMer's Prize and turned our Jamboree into an unforgettable experience. Thank you so much.

“Hope is the last thing to despair in life. Thatˋs why there are blind people that still come to the hospital because they hope to see again one day.”

-David Chinyanya, Project Manager of the Trachoma Mapping Program.

Worldwide 100 Million people are infected with Chlamydia trachomatis every year, a bacterial pathogen, which causes infertility in women and permanent blindness if untreated. Yearly, this leads to blindness of 1.2 Million people affected, primarily in developing countries.

In our opinion it is unacceptable that a disease so simple to treat creates such an immense burden for so many people. To solve this issue, our goal is to develop a simple, fast and economic diagnostic method to detect Chlamydia trachomatis - to find Chlamydory.

Our solution

For this we took advantage of a unique property of Chlamydia regarding their cell wall, precisely the peptidoglycane. Instead of integrating a non proteinogenic amino acid called meso-2,6-Diaminopimelic acid (mDAP) as a linker between the peptidoglycane layers, like most other gram-negative bacteria, Chlamydia secrete it into the extracellular space, making it free for detection. We therefore created E.coli, containing the mTAZ receptor, capable of specifically sensing mDAP. The mDAP binding is visualised by self constructed fluorescent reporters, which activates the transcription factor OmpR, as soon as mTaz binds mDAP, activating the expression of GFP (Fig.1).

Fig. 1: Signal transduction of mTaz. The binding of mDAP to mTaz, causes the EnvZ domain to phosphorylate and therefore activate the transcriptionfactor OmpR. OmpR then activates the expression of the fluorescent protein.

The diagnostic bacteria were immobilized in a microfluidic chip, ensuring a safe, contamination free and defined environment, into which the patient samples would be injected for the diagnosis. To detect the fluorescent signals, the diagnostic microfluidic device can then be loaded onto a Lab-in-phone-device, specifically developed for a model used by our cooperation partners in the Blantyre Institute for Community Ophtamology (BICO) in Malawi, which excite the expressed GFP fluorophore and detects the emitted light. Through an app, designed by the iGEM Team Sydney, the fluorescent signal should be able to be detected (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2: Lab-in-phone-device. The device is attached to the phone, containing the diagnostic app.