Integrated Human Practices Overview
We reached out to various experts and industries to get their perspective of our project and based on our analysis during public engagement we took certain suggestions of theirs and integrated it to our project.
Though while conceptualizing our project we were only focused on prolonging the shelf life of milk at the consumer level, while we presented our project at industries we understood that even with sophisticated equipment they were troubled by milk spoilage during storage and transportation. And that industries often, both public and private alike, were forced to resort to using Formalin, in trace amounts to prevent milk spoilage.
Formalin is not permitted in any edible food products. It is also not allowed in milk meant for regular use, but it is the only legally permitted preservative for milk and milk products samples meant for analytical purposes (in India).Formalin"(Approx. 40% formaldehyde in aqueous solution) used as preservative in the proportion of 0.1ml (2 drops) for 25ml of milk sample or 25g milk products.
Its preservative effect is by its Poisonous property; it binds with protein and affects functionality of .If it is used in excess, it creates an increase in acidity, fat percentage gets reduced, protein also gets reduced, viscosity increases. Toxicological study indicates that prolonged use Formalin affects the kidneys and liver.
Hence to find an alternative for this, we wanted to modify our system in such a way that AMPs got produced the minute they were added to milk. When we realized that milk contains lactose, we took advantage of this, and placed the gene coding for AMPs under a lac promoter so that the minute our system was introduced into milk, AMPs were produced.
To read more about our interaction with several industries, click here.
Initially when we decided to use temperature sensitive production of AMPs, we were only focusing on controlling transcription using different promoters such as a heat shock promoter or a normal promoter with a temperature sensitive mutation. However, Professor Iyyappan from SRM suggested that along with introducing a transcriptional control for temperature sensitive activation, we could also use RNA thermometers for post-transcriptional temperature sensitive regulation, hence we placed it under the regulation of RNA thermometer which was available in the registry of standard biological parts.
Dr.Anu Appaiah from CFTRI(Central Food Technological Research Institute) told us that given the toxic nature of PVC, our product would never make it to the market. Following this we interacted with polymer chemists, and replaced the PVC membrane with Polycaprolactone(PCL).
To read more about our interaction with scholars Click Here.
Regulatory Mechanism Guide
To understand what it would take us to commercialize and get our product into the market, we interacted with several milk industries and research scholars they told us how its almost impossible to introduce Genetically Modified Organisms(GMOs) into the Indian market, because of the strict regulatory laws. We understood that there is a complex chain of regulatory framework in India for the purpose of biosafety when it comes to releasing GMOs. We decided to prepare a report briefing the regulatory mechanism of GMOs, so that future iGEM teams from India would have a good starting point when it came to understanding the intricacies involved in the regulatory mechanism. We looked into how other countries compared with the regulatory mechanisms in place in India, and much to our surprise found that there was substantial variation in the regulation of GMOs around the world. Hence we expanded our report into a more comprehensive one comparing the various regulatory mechanisms around the world. We also considered the possibility of a unanimous stance that all countries can take towards regulation of GMOs.
The objective of this report is to analyze and present the current regulatory mechanisms in different countries as we believe that it is the duty of every student participating in iGEM to have a good understanding of the legal framework surrounding genetically engineered organisms along with the technical knowledge they gain while participating in iGEM. This, we believe, will help us become better citizens of the world by reminding us that as scientists we are accountable for the work we do and its hence imperative that we act responsibly. As an addendum, we’ve also suggested a few ways in which iGEM as a competition can reinforce the same.
As an addendum, we took our project down a entrepreneurial avenue, to read more about that Click Here.