Throughout the year, we developed a cooperative partnership with team GCGS-China. Taking the convenience of using the same laboratory, we shared our experiences and resources extensively, including wet-lab tips, dry-lab tools, and human practice resources.
GCGS-China has been focusing on solving the issue of fish corruption. They were planning to create a test strip to test the infection of Pseudomonas Aeruginosa, an important pathogenic bacteria during fish spoilage. They believed that people could avoid economic loss by detecting the concentration of Pseudomonas Aeruginosa in the fish and dealing with the corrupted fish in time(Click here to see GCGS_China Wiki). Looking at the primary logic of GCGS's project and our project, both of us aim at something that could be accurately and rapidly detected at an affordable cost. There must be many overlaps between our project's milestones, difficulties and possible breakthrough points. Hence we decided to collaborate with them and exchange our project ideas. We believe it would be beneficial for both of us, and this turns out to be true indeed.
We held regular meetings with GCGS-China throughout the year in each stage of the project so that we could have a better understanding of each other. Each session lasted more than 20 minutes. We discussed the experiment procedures, such as observing the target spores. Through regular meetings, we also introduced our project in detail, including the theory of CRISPR-Cas12a detection and barcode modification. In exchange, they shared their thoughts about testing the concentration of Pseudomonas Aeruginosa and using test strips. We were surprised to discover that their thoughts on capturing quorum sensing (QS) molecules can be used for reference in our project.
Based on the meeting, we were intrigued by the convenience of the test strip. This reinforced our idea of using the test strip as the final hardware of our product since it could make our detection system more convenient. By further consulting the information from GCGS_China, we successfully reduced the cost of our products and expanded the potential application scenarios for spore anti-counterfeiting systems.
We also shared what we learned about people's attitudes toward our detection during human practice. We talked about our visit to artist Meng, a famous artist , who consists of exploring a new style of Chinese paintings, and the experiences of visiting the KennaXu gallery.
We taught the students from GCGS_China to conduct microbiology experiments, such as teaching them to configure agarose gels and use microscopes. Sometimes when we encountered problems, we would solve them together, consult the data together, and point out the corresponding deficiencies to each other.
We shared the experiment materials with each other. Since some materials are universal for most iGEM teams, we shared the anti-biotic and LB medium. Moreover, we also shared the experiment apparatus to process our project. Both of our projects use PCR, so we share the lab's PCR apparatus, which used to construct our recombinant plasmids, and GCGS_China also used PCR techniques to proliferate their aptamers.
In this process, we grew to love biological science and enjoyed the process of completing experiments, so our friendship grew increasingly deeper, and we were more confident to promote synthetic biology to the public.
Not only did we cooperate in the project design, but we also had in-depth communication about our human practice. During the meeting, we talked about our experience of visiting artist Meng. We learned about the urgent expectations of new detection methods the artists had in the art industry. In GCGS-China's investigations, they also discovered the fervent expectation of fast-speed detection methods. Through the information we gathered, we were pleased to see the urgent social needs and huge market prospects of our projects, which strongly inspired us to put them into practice.
The GCGS-China have investigated the prices of the text paper by making a phone call to the company selling the test paper. Since we are constructing the test paper, they are also sharing the HP data with us. The exchange of HP experiences helped us to improve both of our products. The GCGS_China and we calculated the price of current test papers that sold in the market. We found an optimal way to construct our test paper with minimum cost. After the calculation and comparison, we deepened the idea to create our text paper.
In October, our team helped them plan and present a talk on synthetic biology to middle school students at GCGS. The starting point for doing this education is that synthetic biology, as a scientific research field, is already well accepted, but using synthetic biology-based products is not a typical case in our daily life. In order to put our product in real applicate and use by people, we need our audiences to understand better. In addition, same with many other iGEM teams, we hope that more people, especially middle school students in our age group, will learn about the origins, goals, current developments, and future of the discipline.
The program's main elements include an introduction to synthetic biology, molecular biology, bioethics, debates, etc. In order to develop our partnership, we adhere to the principle of mutual benefit and assist each other. Our team members contribute to the teaching of our students. Our team members are responsible for teaching "What is Synthetic Biology" to students.
How we cooperate
Communication is always crucial for a partnership. We have several meetings with the members of GCGS_China. At the start, we introduced our program to them and specifically introduced the Cas12a detection method, the core technology of our anti-counterfeiting system.
After we had an in-depth exchange of thoughts with GCGS_China, we realized the advantage of using test paper as a physical carrier of our marker detection system. Using the horizontal flow test paper design of GCGS_China as a reference, we improved and upgraded the commercial test paper we bought with the assistance of GCGS_China, and designed a new test paper to accommodate Cas12a testing. In our lab, we meet together and construct test papers for our projects. Our detection system becomes more convenient through this cooperation, and the cost of our product is still maintained at a reasonable price. This is really important for us as our ultimate goal is to promote this anti-counterfeit system to the general public.
How we develop further cooperation
In our project, we plan to use cas12a test paper as the primary method of testing the authenticity of the art pieces. The GCGS-China have the technique of making test paper with low prices. To reduce the cost of our products, we cooperated with them to create a text paper that can text the spores within stamps. After designing the text paper, we also started some further cooperation.
The GCGS_China helped us in optimizing our Wiki by checking our grammar and words in the wiki. They shared some opinions about how to optimize the structure of our Wiki. We also completed the partnership and model together. Besides, they also taught some of our team members about editing the wiki. Moreover, GCGS_China helped us to construct the model of the price of a barcode.