Team:AISSU Union/Integrated HP


In this year, AISSU-Union established the project Memory Bread, finding a new way to solve the degeneration of recognitive ability in senior group. We planned a set of activities and searched suggestions for both the improvement and commercial development of our project to reach our goal.

In the first week of starting our integrated human practice, we wanted to know the details about people's attitude towards transgenic product, which was important for us to popularize our project into the elder generation. With numerous feedbacks, we preliminarily found out that people had many concerns about our modified yeast, and about the effects that extracted naringenin and catechin might have on human body. In order to explore information about the commercial activities of bread retail, experiment designing and food safety, we set up a series of comprehensive conversations with experts, bakery manger and individuals. Meanwhile, we held continuous discussion with a variety of public groups to give them a more comprehensive understanding to synthetic biology. In return, we garnered sufficient information of social attitudes and future perspectives towards the synthetic biology. Although we had the divergence in points of view at first, through sincere communication and unremitting efforts, we eventually reached mutual understanding.

Initial Questionnaire:

Firstly, in order to establish an initial understanding of the public opinion on our project, we published an online questionnaire after a short meeting. Our purpose was to get a hint about public attitudes towards the transgenic products, and more precisely, to know what did they think about our project. Surprisingly, we received 952 valid questionnaires within only 1 day after we distributed the questionnaire to our family members and friends. All data were collected in anonymous ways to ensure its validity.

The result shows that the male respondents voted 2 percentages more than female respondents, and that the feedback from different age groups is relatively even. In this initial questionnaire, we paid more attention on the age group of young adults, between 18 to 40 years old. We underestimated the enthusiasm young people have towards synthetic biology and health products.

Unexpectedly, on one question about "what is your first impression about transgenic products?", over 90 percent of people will think of the transgenic food. Following that, the agricultural and forestry transgenic products, got second highest number of votes. Based on those data, we got a fundamental understanding of people's attitudes towards, transgenic products. As we can see, more people casted their attentions on transgenic foods and food safety. Those results guided us to set some activities on getting information about governmental regulations and current polices on transgenic food and agricultural activities.

Next, when we first mentioned naringenin and catechin, the two core compounds in our projects, over 80 percentage of people had no idea about the flavanols. Therefore, in order to introduce our products and biotechnology to the public, we decided to collect more information from experts, about how they think our products in their academic points of view.

Also, following by the last question, we attempted to find more about people's viewpoint to transgenic food.

However, people's attitudes towards transgenic goods were not really optimistic. People only gave 34.04 out of 100 points for letting family members to eat transgenic food. The marks of the behavior of buying transgenic food, was only 41.42 of 100 points in average. Following that, when people were asked "if they would feel anxious and confused to eat transgenic food", they gave 51.5 of 100 on average. For trying those new food, people are really prudent. That facts reminded us to have more detailed explorations on food security, like the exports and imports of transgenic food in a series of activities we planned to have next.

Generally, after a detailed analysis of the first questionnaire set to people, we could felt the a large amount of attentions that public paid on transgenic food. Meanwhile, more people emphasized the process of production should be transparent, and with some effective certification from government to ensure the product could be effective to improve the elderly’s health level. The initial questionnaire worked as our guider. After that, we set up a following series of corresponding Human Practices activities to dig into these questions.

Collection Advices



When we received the latest feedback of the first questionnaire, we decided to start up our first Human Practice activity of HOW A YEAST FERMENTATION TECHNOLOGY IS DESIGNED. We successfully contacted with Mr. Jing Xiong and Mr. Fengchun Chen. Mr. Jing Xiong is the main manager and designer of yeast fermentation process in Sichuan Xieli pharmaceutical Co. LTD.

As we were still in experimental process, at first the representative ask him about how to set up experiments in a more scientific way. He suggested elements of production: the factor which can under us control lies in of the small and medium experiment. The first is accumulation, and the second is the analysis and summary, which are the process of accumulating over time.

Firstly, we mentioned that we used nine genes from different plants to build up two different plasmids which were inserted into yeast cells to produce flavanols such as naringenin and catechin. He deeply appreciated our ideas and enquired for more details, and gave some suggestion. In his point of view, to get purer flavanol, the purification procedure is crucial. "To be specific, flavanols is a kind of polyhydroxyphenol, meaning that the theoretical purification will be difficult. Not only is it easy to be oxidized, but also easily dissolving into an aqueous solution," he said. In view of this situation, he gave us two constructive suggestions on our experimental procedures:

1. We can add a protective measure to avoid excessive oxidization of the flavanols.

2. We could try continuous fermentation in the future: Firstly, let cells grow to an appropriate concentration in petri dish. Then we could produce an intermediate product, the naringenin, and through the second stage to get our final product catechin. It is important that we should exactly control the system's temperatures to let reaction go in forward direction.

For the idea of using genetic modified yeast to produce the compound. Mr. Xiong emphasized the benefits of using them as the original microorganism for fermentation.

He suggested that yeasts rarely form inclusion body and have a more stable growth rate, therefore to give better enzyme expressions.

"If you're making catechin that you can eat straight away, people will ask you where it comes from. Hence, yeast will advantage in this way relatively. "Mr. Xiong explained to us.

When we talk about the prospects for genetically modified organism products and synthetic biology, he felt optimistic to the future of synthetic biology, according to the fact of the general social trend that people around the world are more willing to invest for their health nowadays.

Also, Mr. Fengchun Chen, another expert who is working in pharmaceutical chemosynthesis, shared his opinion. In a bid to make food that could have similar functions with medicines, he suggested that clinical data could be considered, in order to make sure it can get predicted effects on specific group. And also, we should investigate the target groups thoroughly, considering more about the differences in different races, which may have differences in effects of this type of health product.

After the face-to-face discussion. We kept in touch with the two experts in Chengdu, China. Before we conducted the fermentation process. We contacted with Mr. Jing Xiong to find out more details of yeast fermentation. Surprisingly, Mr. Xiong gave a detailed process of how to control and adjust different variables in experiments. His prompt responses gave us more encouragement and actually save our time from searching information.

  • How to control the different variables in fermentation


Online Discussion

---an interview with experts work in food science and food engineering.

As we were collecting questionnaries feedback and the face-to-face interview in Chengdu pharmaceutical Co. LTD., we noticed that the public cared more about the safety of transgenic food. So, we contacted Mr. Tiehua Zhang, the dean and the professor of the College of Food Science and Engineering, Jilin University. He had been working in the field of biotech food for years.

As we were discussing more about the food processing, he was quite interested in our idea of using Golden Gate assembly to assemble 9 different genes respectively into 2 plasmids, then inserting them into the yeast to create a new type of yeast to produce flavanol.

He mentioned that catechin, commonly found in tea, Chinese people, especially for people living in Guangdong province, have a prevalent habit to drink them to improve their health level. Also, he repeatedly emphasized the target people group should be seriously considered. For example, catechin, as a kind of polyphenols could have some effects on absorption of proteins and minerals as polyphenol could be prone to flocculation. He does not think the teenagers should eat too much catechin. But as for seniors'groups, he thinks it is different because the catechin is a type of flavanol good at improvement cardiovascular functions, and could also work well to promote the cognitive ability for senior groups. A high concentrated doses of catechin can cause irritation, especially to the skin and mucous membranes. Mr. Zhang said:“we know that the high purity of catechin cause a relatively fierce effects, so that the lower purity could minimize the effect of the side-effects.

We discussed more about the food processing. When such yeast is directly used as the food additive, we have to make sure all live microorganism (yeast cells) is eliminated. Raw materials cannot be contaminated by other deleterious substance like animal veterinary, drug residues, and some pesticide residues. The basic ingredients must be kept in freshness. According to the products varieties, the different storage time and conditions should be considered. For example, pasteurization helps us preserve the essential nutrients in the food, even if the storage period is short, it can guarantee the color and flavor of the food. Yogurt, for example, can usually be kept for half a month and is basically pasteurized under certain conditions. After a long period of disinfection, yogurt has been on the market for a long time and is now available in rural and remote areas. As we used bread as the physical vector of catechins and naringenin.

Seniors were possibly stubborn and rejected to those bad taste health products, we try to explore how to improve the taste because the catechin contains a bitter taste, which may push the seniors away to eat them. To this point, he suggested that we’d better use some sweeteners to improve the taste of the bread. For instance, the using of aspartame could be good as it got little extra energy but amplified the sweetness for approximately 150 to 200 times.

Mr. Zhang usually added more sweeteners or acidulants. Then mix with the bitter functional factors in microencapsulation and so on. In this way, when you eat the best taste has some improvement, into the gastrointestinal, he will be slowly released, but also to achieve the regulatory effect. Kills two birds in one stone.

When talking about the prospect of bioengineering in food, pharmaceutical and health care products, based on his experience, the professor said: “In fact, bioengineering is a very common technique that involves modifying genes. In addition, biological engineering is developing faster and faster in the 21st century, especially in the field of food and pharmaceutical”.

These drugs and foods also go through some safety tests, as long as they meet the requirements and safety of health food and other indicators, he thought they could be sold. The public was more interested in what your product did. Overpublicizing those genetically modified food is inadvisable, but people always focused more on the effect of functional factor, like the improvement in ability to eliminate the free radicals in human body.

Food Industry Exploration

A disscussion with Forgain_professional flour production enterprises.

In order to contacted more about the food industry. We have successfully contacted a local company, FORGAIN in Shenzhen, a leading enterprise established in 1997 in flour products'manufacturing of China. We found out more about develop new markets and how to solve those problems, for example, food safety and how to publicize products in an appropriate way, to avoid revulsion from people.

We started our communication online. Initially, we did get a clear understanding about how safety of manufacturing food. After a short online discussion to the experts worked in sub-factory in Dongguan, who was responsible to bread fermentation and food safety. They carefully explained to use about how to combine the “special effects” to the normal bread to create an impressive food product to consumers. And the first factor was the ingredients, for a commercial purpose the experts suggested that we could emphatically point out the flavanol bread could have significant effects on health level, especially cardiovascular and cognitive functions. Moreover, the marketing experts suggest a degree of fashion could successfully catch people’s attention. That idea actually gave us new way of how to overcome the prejudice the seniors’ group to genetically modified product, by emphasizing its functions, like highlighting the most significant substance contained in the product is crucial. Experts from FORGAIN said presently, extraction of catechin to make food additives as nutrients could be theoretically available, To the surprise, we are extremely lucky that they provided us with detailed steps they used in commercial production of bread, called the sponge-dough method, which is a commercial method of making initial doughs, then add the other products into the product in the fermentation process, as strong evidences to demonstrate the possibility of combining our new product with industrial production. Moreover, another problem also confused us, which was we should mind the other disease with high incidence in seniors'groups, like diabetes, hyperlipidemia and constipation. As a solution, FORGAIN designed three different types of breads, which are Low-glycemic index bread, low fat bread and high-fiber bread, corresponding to those diseases.

At the same time, they repeatedly mentioned about the safety standard should be carefully recorded. Finding out whether the yeasts have especially effects on taste, fermentation, and expiration date. Even though they may wouldn't like to use the genetically modified yeast in their future's food production, experts still praised our project be very prospective, that let us notice the huge potential of this project and more determined to develop this kind of food product. But they pointed out another condition. As the rapid development of synthetic biology techniques, some official certificates like ISO9001, Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, and SC Food production license could be the hardest evidence to prove the safety of our project. And made business promotion became feasible, we still decided to dig more about relevant information, that had better from government.


with retailor---K.Toast:getting attitude of induvidual household towards new yeast.

In addition to the big traditional industries, we also visited self-employed entrepreneurs, a bread retailor---K. TOAST. That was a small bakery that has wide and lasting cooperation networking with the local schools with popular reputation in Shenzhen. We were invited by managers to the headquarter in Futian district, Shenzhen and the shop assistants introduced that they were particular good at making bread with different taste, like salted egg yolk. The manager said she always is cautious about the kind of bread they make and strictly controls the quality of product, for example, they only used high quality Angel Yeast for fermentation. Otherwise the store could face the complaints from customers and penalty from the National Medical and food Products Administration. When we were asking them their target key customers, he replied to us that the majority of them were families with seniors and children who usually worry about more taste and safety. He did feel genetically designed yeast is too new for them to try because of the common concern among them. However, after a detailed explanation of how our project is inspired and what methods we adopted, he saw our intention of caring the senior people and admitted that our yeast could be used only if it is safely designed. He would give us feedbacks for a better yeast development.

Also, after the face-to-face interview, we continuously discussed online to know about how to eliminated the living microorganism in bread and how inspection department could ensure the safety policies. We garnered those information and prepared to ask for help to the government.

  • How to control the different variables in fermentation


With sufficient survey and understanding to the public attitude, we were extremely fortunate to reach out Shenzhen Customs in the Qianhai Office that locates at the Shenzhen Qianhai Free Trade Zone. We were able to set up a face-to-face interview under the pressure of pandemic spreading. These officials have rich experiences on exporting and importing different products. Also, they are dedicated to promote the high-tech development in Shenzhen. We had a meeting with them and briefly introduced our project. They were impressed by the prospect of this projects may bring to their professional career, their instincts urged them to hold an in-depth conversation with us to further discuss more details of this project.

Firstly we straightly discussion about the regulation on transgenic product at present in China. They pointed out the customs were really cautious to judge any of those genetic modified food in the trade stage. Due to the restricted regulation, many transgenic products couldn't be approved to be imported or exported unless being used for researches. Only some franchised products are permitted to import, like maize meal and soya.

For our project, we attempted to find an exact definition of our product Memory Bread in light of genetically modified food (GMF) and genetically modified health product (GMHP). During this face-to-face interview with Qianhai Customs Experts, we thought our bread with genetically modified yeast as the addictive, should be classified as transgenic food. The official agreed us such definition. However, the current laws are not clear about the exact definition of GMF, they instructed us to pay extra attention to the safety hidden risks. For example, the GMF we made cannot contain the transgenic microorganism inside. Once the ingredients with transgenic microorganism have been detected, we would be fined. They also mentioned about how to pass relative tests and to receive quality certificate in domestic market. There are some relative legal documents are here. (A Regulatory Review of Genetically Modified Organisms in China.)

After the strict approval, the product will be directly supervised by State Administration for Market Regulation.

Different attitudes were shown by Qianhai Customs Office when we asked them about the development of Synthetic biology and genetic modified product. The customs officer who is responsible to this field said they always consanguineously care about the development of these techniques. In their viewpoints, the safety, effectiveness and benefits to the people are considered the most important for the policy makers. Simultaneously, the business scale of this industry was considered too when the economic benefits were enormous, which will cause the following policies to be enhanced.