Team:British Columbia/Partnership

UBC iGEM 2021




Over the last few months, our team has partnered with iGEM HU from Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany. This partnership is quite special and significant to us as our current iGEM projects are similar in various aspects and this has enabled us to develop our respective projects further by sharing knowledge and opening up communications between the teams.

We have been meeting every other week from June to October to stay informed on both teams’ progress. Members from both teams brought up significant updates about wet-lab progress, ideation, and troubleshooting for dry-lab simulations and mathematical models, as well as ideas for outreach and educational initiatives to share scientific knowledge about cancer and bacterial-based therapy with the public!

A team photo from our first Zoom meeting with iGEM HU


Similar to our project, the iGEM HU team is working on genetically engineering Salmonella to harness its natural tumour-targeting potential for use in cancer therapy. We were excited to hear about the Berlin team’s project because while our project focuses on using Salmonella for diagnostic/monitoring purposes in cancer, their team uses the same organism for therapeutic production and delivery of tumours - ultimately we thought that our projects complement one another very well. Both our teams were excited to leverage the natural tumour-targeting ability of Salmonella for our respective aims. As such, we created a shared Google drive folder to share literature on Salmonella engineering with one another.

The HU Berlin iGEM team is using Salmonella minicells for therapeutic delivery to tumours


Given we both worked on Salmonella, we shared protocols and helped each other troubleshoot experiments. The Berlin team provided their protocol for attenuating Salmonella. While our team is already using an available attenuated Salmonella strain, we still thought that having this protocol available for Salmonella attenuation is vital to the safety component of our projects.

In terms of circuit design, both our teams were testing the lactate-inducible plldR promoter. We discussed and brainstormed ways to do this, such as using fluorescent assays and western blotting. Through our discussions, both our teams decided to do so via the former method for efficiency. We shared our plasmid design for the characterization of lldR promoter with each other, and discussed relevant lactate concentrations to test in this assay. Our team is testing the Salmonella plldR promoter while the Berlin team is testing the E. coli equivalent. We believe it would be interesting and relevant for us to compare our results with one another, which would potentially add to the robustness of our promoter characterization.


Our team members came together to design social media infographics in order to disseminate key knowledge about cancer and bacterial-based cancer therapies to the general public. We sourced knowledge and scientific facts from the World Health Organization, and summarized information from review papers on cancer research as well as literature pertaining to the therapeutic use of Salmonella in cancer treatments. Our objective for this social media series was to use simple language to explain complex concepts about cancer and Salmonella in order to assuage any apprehensions and fears about the safety of using microorganisms such as Salmonella in cancer treatment.

Through engaging graphics, members from both teams came together to create and disseminate key information about the definition and causes of cancer, the safety considerations and attenuation of Salmonella in our proposed projects, the definition and importance of clinical trials, as well as the use of Salmonella in cancer therapy.

These infographics were posted on the social media pages of both the UBC iGEM and iGEM HU teams in order to explain our respective projects to the public. We hope that the carefully curated content of these infographics will help explain the fundamental concepts of our teams’ projects to those who may be otherwise unaware of them or those wary about safety!

Below, we have included a select few of our infographics to showcase:

To plan and foster this partnership, we again thank our Team and that of Humboldt Berlin!