Aalto-Helsinki Team Wiki

Aalto-Helsinki Team Wiki

Shedding Light on Our Gut


Mental health is a global health concern and the leading cause of disability (WHO, 2021). In order for us to be able to develop better therapeutic and diagnostic solutions to support mental well-being, research is needed to uncover the complexity of our mental health and related factors. We at Aalto-Helsinki 2021, want to approach mental health from the perspective of the gut-brain axis to help understand how our gut microbiota impacts our mental health. With our novel research tool, GutLux, we want to give researchers a tool for exploring the connection between our gut and our brain in order to bridge the existing knowledge gap.

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Our GutLux research tool is an ingestible capsule that measures concentrations of tryptamine or kynurenic acid produced by bacteria in the gut lumen. The tool can be used for research to understand how the gut microbiota affects our mental health. In addition, it could be used to understand the effects of these metabolites to our health overall.

The capsule will travel through the digestive system and conduct active measurements in the small and large intestine. In the presence of target metabolites, a fluorescent signal will be produced and the fluorescence intensity is interpreted to digital data. The data will be collected to a receiver device located outside of the body, which stores the data locally. This way, we are able to gain valuable information on what is actually happening inside our gut while it's happening.

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In addition to developing our research tool, we want to raise awareness on synthetic biology and gut microbiota through public outreach and education. We have launched the Aalto-Helsinki podcast that covers topics from the field of life sciences and technology to inspire our community.

We have also collaborated with local primary and high schools to introduce students to synthetic biology and to inspire creativity in the fields of science and engineering. We are also collaborating with numerous experts and other iGEM teams to share knowledge, gain valuable insights to take our project even further, and ensure that our project is safe and ethically conducted.

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Aalto-Helsinki Team Wiki