This year, we reconstructed a probiotic which can detect and report the disorder in the surrounding. As our modified bacteria have been confirmed effective in the wet lab, we also hope it can be applied into the market. Thus, we designed an array of complement devices, including sodium alginate embedded bacteria, hardware and software.
Science is not the star shining on the remote sky, but a day-to-day product shared by every individual. The applications of these three implementations could form a complete loop between users and designers. Our modified bacteria was processed to be embedded in sodium alginate, making the daily use of the bacteria much more convenient and handy. Hardware, the “Box”, will handle the pets’ disposal and the geosmin while killing the pathogens. It aims to improve the feasibility and users’ experience quality when the product is put into practice. Software, the “APP”, could monitor and control the hardware, making our product much more intelligent. “APP” will function as a bridge to make our product more vivid and lively.
Sodium alginate beads
In order to have a better integration with the reality, the bacteria should be tailored in the medium. Initially, the assumption towards the form of our final product is quite simple, because we just want to mix the dry powder of the engineered bacteria with the feeding stuff. However, after discussing with the pets’ stuff company and conducting a market research, we found that only a small number of products add the probiotic into the feeding directly; Thus, it might not be a wise option to blend them directly. Besides, our questionnaire also reflects the voice of the public. The safety, especially the biosafety, has been attach the great importance amid the users. Finally, we opted for sodium alginate to coat and stabilize the bacteria.
The distinctive properties of the sodium alginate determine its function as the embedding medium we choose. Firstly, sodium alginate is a widely recognized safe food additives; It displays nontoxic property and safeguards the health of the users. Secondly, the sodium alginate embedded bacteria can maintain its biological vitality. To our excitement, there are several successful cases indicating that embedded bacteria can exert its biological function. That is to say, theoretically, our modified bacteria are likely to remain effective after being embedded. Finally, the embedded bacteria will form a cross-linked structure, making it much more difficult to escape or leak into the environment. Biosafety, the very heart of our project, is mainly achieved by physical isolation.
By blending the well-purchased sodium alginate with the feedings, the users can utilize the product simply and conveniently.
The “Box” aims to sense and degrade the geosmin, at the same time, disinfect the waste. Correspondingly, it constitutes two independent parts- an UV lamp and hypochlorite storage.
In the “Detection” Module, we use chemical-electrical decoder to quantify the volume of geosmin, helping the users to determine the health condition of their pets. According to the literature, the existence of hypochlorite and exposure to the ultraviolet will accelerate the degradation of geosmin. Thus, product purchasers will not worry about the uncertain emergence of disgusting smell deriving from the geosmin in their daily life while disinfecting feces.
The “APP” bridges the gap between the users and our hardware. By linking with “Box” by Bluetooth, our full-fledged “APP” can control the hardware to open or close. Meawhile, delivering smart notification and usage information. In the age of information and loT, the “APP” will undoubtedly cater to the demand of our era, filling in the vacancy of bilateral interaction to making our product a whole system.
Safety of Implementation
We have paid extra emphasis towards the biosafety of our product to incorporate with the reality. When it comes to the chassis, we choose Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 as our expression vector. E.coli Nissle 1917 is a widely recognized probiotic, having the capability of relieving the anti-inflammation. Besides, we organizeed our circuit delicately, developing two suicide schemes based on temperature . The) suicide switch will be activated once the temperature in the surrounding declines. In our project, the normal temperature of the working environment is around 37℃. So the suicide scheme can avoid the accidental leakage of the bacteria. When the bacteria leave the normal working condition, the temperature in the surrounding will drop; Therefore, the suicide switch will be activated and the toxin will be expressed. Moreover, sodium alginate, an innoxious embedded medium, can serve as a physical isolation to prevent the bio-leakage.
By simply blending the well-purchased sodium alginate with the feedings, the users can utilize the product simply and conveniently.
When pets finished evacuating, owners can cap the feces by the “Box” and connect the “APP” to surveillance the expression of the geosmin. After that, users can choose to open the UV light or not, depending on their personal needs.
Disinfectant should be prepared by the owner themselves and replenish on a regular basis.
Our engineered bacteria can synthesize geosmin synthetase to catalyse the formation of geosmin which can be perceived at a very low concentration. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), such as LTA, have a broad antibiotic spectrum to rebalance the gut microbiota. Azurin can further enhance the probiotic effect of our modified bacteria. We sincerely hope that one day we can achieve the vision of “the earlier detection, the earlier treatment”.
In summary, developing a convenient and home-based way to detect IBD is the core of our work. Despite the fact that an AMP is included in our project, the sick pets still need to be taken to the hospital, preventing the uncontrollable results from happening.
Cost-effective as our products are, we successfully combined a multitude of functions in one bacterium, via the application of synthetic biology. Meanwhile, there is no need of special training before using the product, making it an user-friendly product when put into the market.
We conducted SWOT analysis for our product. From the perspective of design, the accuracy of “Detection Module” should be improved constantly. Though our modified bacteria have been confirmed effective in the wet lab, whether it can be applied to the market or not is still under the exploration. This year, we try to have a deeper insight into the two- component- system (TCS) by controlling the expression and point mutation. From the perspective of product, the complicated function theory and distinctiveness of our product block the popularization. Besides, the probiotic with diagnosis function is only pursued by small number of people. Being a new purchase, it’s difficult to compete with various probiotic and perform better in the market.