Team:JNFLS China/HP/Silver

Background information: What is the influence of Alzheimer's disease?

Alzheimer itself won’t threaten life. However, reported life span of patients varies from 2 years to more than 10 years. There are roughly three stages with different characteristics we can tell from patients (

Mild- Early stage (Stage that difficult to tell symptoms)

  • Problems coming up with the right word or name
  • Trouble remembering names when introduced to new people
  • Having greater difficulty performing tasks in social or work settings
  • Forgetting material that one has just read
  • Losing or misplacing a valuable object
  • Increasing trouble with planning or organizing

Moderate-Middle stage

  • Forgetfulness of events or about one's own personal history
  • Feeling moody or withdrawn, especially in socially or mentally challenging situations
  • Being unable to recall their own address or telephone number or the high school or college from which they graduated
  • Confusion about where they are or what day it is
  • The need for help choosing proper clothing for the season or the occasion
  • Trouble controlling bladder and bowels in some individuals
  • Changes in sleep patterns, such as sleeping during the day and becoming restless at night
  • An increased risk of wandering and becoming lost
  • Personality and behavioral changes, including suspiciousness and delusions or compulsive, repetitive behavior like hand-wringing or tissue shredding

Severe- Late stage

  • Require full-time, around-the-clock assistance with daily personal care
  • Lose awareness of recent experiences as well as of their surroundings
  • Require high levels of assistance with daily activities and personal care
  • Experience changes in physical abilities, including the ability to walk, sit and, eventually, swallow
  • Have increasing difficulty communicating
  • Become vulnerable to infections, especially pneumonia

Differences caused primary by the progression of Alzheimer, that is, as long as we can prevent patients into late stage, related life-threatening problems may occur much less as expected.

Interview with doctor

The situations are not optimistic, medical conditions are having problems both on diagnoses and treatment (can only be effective in delaying disease course). Since most old people cannot accept the idea of getting CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) through one’s spine — not to mention the sequel on the patient’s life, CSF is no longer used anymore. Cerebral CT and more precise Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI) are presently used to detect the extent of atrophy in hippocampus. Below are something we learned from the interview:

  • Alzheimer’s disease is different from simple comprehensive function decline that happens when everyone gets old. It’s a type of illness that can be a horrifying killer.
  • AD is a brain degeneration disorder. It happens when β-peptide deposits extracellular and Tau protein aggregates in neuros.
  • Three stages of AD:
    1. Resent memory decline/insomnia/ personality changes.
    2. Linguistic ability decline/ fail to deal with information about space and vision.
    3. Losing self-care ability of daily living/ losing most mentality
  • Social methods needs to be taken to raise awareness for AD.
  • Present medicine include Aricept and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist (Memantine), both of which are very expensive.
  • Statistics shows that there are more women getting AD than men.
  • Factors affecting morbidity include psychological pressure, education level, and family inheritance (determined by 3 genes).
  • September 21st is the National AD Prevention Day.
  • Very small proportion of patients through inheritance, major are sporadic AD patients, who have a very long period of disease.
  • MMSE (Mini-mental State Examination) can be used to examine the extent of AD signals, level of education should be taken into account.
  • Five Standard of Human Intelligence: Memory, Language, Logic & Ratiocination, Complexity of Knowing & Doing, Vision & Spaciousness. Lacking 2 or 3 of these five standards could be the sign of dementia.
  • Definition of AD,
    1. Lack of normal consciousness, linguistic and other types of response and thought, even when conscious are stable.
    2. The illness are postnatal.
    3. Comprehensive function decline entirely.
    4. All illness process are all persistent, usually 3 to 6 months.
  • Current methods of detecting AD mainly depends on MMSE and MRI, but both are not as precise as it should be.

At present times, it’s difficult for doctors to do diagnoses on (potential) patients. This inspired us to explore new ways of diagnoses, which lead to our initial project, Device 1.0 (Fig. 1).

Project evaluation based on interview

Based on our interviews, we found that the cost of the device in our design is more price advantage in terms of disease detection. The main method they used currently is MRI detection, which cost 900RMB (app. 138USD). Puncture detection, though only cost around 200RMB (app. 31USD), due to the huge pain caused by it, rarely people can accept this method psychologically. Nearly 25% percent were determined from answering simple questions, an inaccurate way with high misdiagnosis rate, our new diagnosis method is less painful, easier to be accessed (final prospected equipment can be used at home), and low cost- current cost of our detection n lab is around 82 RMB (app. 13USD) (Table. 1). Results showed here again confirmed our assumption, which is we need an accurate, low cost and easy accessible new diagnosis method.

JNFLS exhibition

We set up an iGEM club at Jinan Foreign Language School because we hope our passion for Synthetic Biology could be passed on, and iGEM team of our school could continue to participate the competition in the next season. At the beginning of this semester, we gave a presentation to the fresh students about Synthetic Biology and iGEM. After the public presentation, it’s the take in fresh hour. Four posters were all brought to school for display. Among 120 fresh students, we had over a quarter, 32 students interested in Synthetic Biology projects, and willing to participate in the next season of iGEM! It’s not only the feeling of support from peers with same interests, but also the process of making those who has no idea about what Synthetic Biology is get to know and interested in it (Fig. 2)!


This is the first time for our team JNFLS_China to participate iGEM competition this year. As a new team, it is necessary and indispensable for us to communicate and collaborate with other teams. Here we will introduce our cooperation project and we appreciate all the teams and people that ever helped us. click to collaboration