Team:NMU China/Collaborations

Combatting COVID-19
Naval Medical University CHINA

iGEM is not only a competition, but also a process of learning with other teams, making progress together and solving difficulties together. It requires sharing and collaboration. Communication with different teams is also of great significance to the smooth progress of our project.

In August 2021, our team had close discussions and exchanges with NNU - China , as well as four high school teams: ASTWS-China, iBowu-China, Worldshaper-Nanjing, and Worldshaper-Shanghai. We exchanged information about our project and shared some technical methods. We are delighted to answer their questions, and put forward our opinions and insights on their projects. At the same time, we also received a lot of feedback, which further improved our projects.

        1. Jiao Zhandong ( Bill ) of Tsinghua Affiliated Middle School emphasized that the key to HP is to influence society and help people around it, rather than just doing scientific research. Secondly, he believes that a good integrated HP needs to form its own logical closed loop. Taking object-oriented practice as an example, a comprehensive HP needs to cover the general public, domain experts, commercial enterprises, government agencies, etc., which greatly inspired us. In the later HP process, we paid attention to collecting opinions from people of different identities, and focusing on the views of stakeholders on our project.
        2. Dr. Ruyi Shi, PI of Worldshaper-Shanghai reminded us that we need to pay attention to the viral load, because if the number of viruses is small for the first time, the body may need to strengthen the immune response to quickly clear it. In the later stage of the disease, considering that macrophages cannot replicate themselves in the body, CAR macrophages may not be able to complete the task if the viral load is too high. For the former problem, our Kill-CAR (CAR-γ) perfectly solves the problem, and the latter problem needs to be further verified by the model.
        3. On September 30, 2021, we invited Professor Yin You from NMU Changzheng Hospital to help high school students team. We helped them solve questions about their project on experimental animal studies and current difficulties in treating Alzheimer's disease. They learned a lot about the frontier research of Alzheimer's disease, which has guiding significance for subsequent experiments.

During the communication with the team of high school students, we saw their love and enthusiasm for synthetic biology, and we couldn't help feeling encouraged.

In September 2021, our team organized an experimental conversation NUDT-China. We exchanged information about our project and asked some questions. In response to the questions, we have made some improvements, but there are also problems that cannot be dealt with, which makes this collaboration more precious.

       1.Exchanged information: In terms of overall experimental thinking, the two teams have some similarities. First, team NUDT_China transfected fluorescence-based interactions into target cells through plasmids, and after the cells expressed the target protein, the subsequent target protein degradation process was activated by blue light irradiation. However, our team activated the subsequent CAR receptor expression after the macrophage il-6 receptor sensed a certain cncentration of IL-6, and then recognized the virus surface antigen through the receptor to phagocytose the virus. In both experiments there was an activator that started the process, blue light in the former and il-6 concentration in the latter. Secondly, team NUDT_China explored the interaction of different blue light sensitivities in order to select the one with the best effect, while our team compared the phagocytosis effects of CAR receptors in different domains.
       2. NUDT_China→NMU_China: proposed that due to the variability of the viral antigens selected in the experiment, the viral antigen recipients designed in the experiment may influence the interaction between the virus and the receptor due to the variation of the virus, thus "missing target" may exist and the binding specificity of macrophages may be lost.
We answered the question. Most mutations do not change the nature of the virus and they are harmless. But some affect the way the virus recognizes cells (increasing its ability to spread) or the S protein sequence, which may reduce receptor recognition of the protein. We will further consider and discuss the specific situation of antigen in the process of virus mutation.
       3. NUDT_China→NMU_China: In terms of how to ensure that the macrophages injected into the body by NUDT_China will not continue to cause excessive damage in the body after completing most of the viral clearance functions, our team took suggestions and reviewed literatures, as well as adding suicide gene in the subsequent project design.
       4. At the same time, we also put forward our own ideas for the NUDT_China project: Is there any requirement for the intensity of blue light in the whole regulatory system, and is there a certain threshold? In response to our questions, team NUDT_China subsequently explored on the threshold of blue light irradiation intensity.

LZU-CHINA          ICJFLS         NNU-China          FZU-China          NEU_China  
In the process of project promotion, considering that the concept of synthetic biology has a long way to go in China, the corresponding iGEM team in northwest China is less. In order to better popularize the knowledge of synthetic biology, we collaborated with LZU-China to produce an education package for students and teachers in these regions.We delivered the completed education package contents to LZU-China, NEU-China, OUC-China, hoping to expand the impact of the education package. They went to The Affiliated School of Lanzhou University, the junior middle school of Jinan foreign language school and other schools. After iGEM, we will continue to promote education programs around the world and spread science and knowledge to more children in poor areas.

ICJFLS went to the junior middle school of Jinan foreign language school, working as a volunteer teacher.

LZU-China went to The Affiliated School of Lanzhou University, working as a volunteer teacher.
In addition,LZU-China and OUC-China helped us publicize the questionnaire about the acceptance of cell therapy. We also helped OUC-China conduct some questionnaire publicity.

At the same time, our team worked with LZU-China, FZU-China, NNU-China, NUDT-China, NWU-China-B, UM_Macau and Worldshaper-Nanjing to produce the "Cell Factory" picture book collection. At a meeting, each team introduced their own design ideas of picture books, and discussed the production of picture books, such as the order of cover, back cover and content. We jointly created a theme, and completed the production of the picture book. This collection of picture books is vivid, interesting and play a significant role in the publicity and education of children's science.

"Cell Factory" picture book meeting invitation

From August 27, 2021 to August 29, 2021, we attended the Eighth China region iGEMer exchange (CCiC Assembly). This is a gathering of young enthusiasts of synthetic biology, and it is also a vivid portrayal of our continuous collaboration, continuous progress, and joint efforts to overcome future challenges. After our presentation, two experts put forward some suggestions for our project. Professor Huang Guanghua reminded us that we should pay attention to why we emphasized the use of macrophages in the presentation. So we explained this point in detail in the later preparation of the presentation to complement the logical chain. Professor Ren first affirmed the integrity of our project and the strong experimental data, which may provide a new option for COVID-19 patients. At the same time, he suggested that our ideas and products have some value for all diseases that may trigger a storm of inflammatory factors. After CCIC, we found the advantages and disadvantages of the project and made adjustments in time.

We gathered Seven teams (ECUST-China, OUC-China,NEU_China, ZJUT-China,BIOT-China,LZU-China) with the theme of COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment to hold a seminar, namely "Virus Police" during the 2020.
For this year, we received specific suggestions on the safety aspects of the experiment as well as opinions on the advantages and disadvantages of these team’s projects and suggestions for following improvement. With the aid of their experience, we further realized many factors are supposed to take into consideration when such methods become available in daily life, such as cost, portability, accuracy, sample preservation and management, applicable scenarios, etc.