Target users
CVDs are a group of heart and blood vessel disorders which accounts for 30% of global deaths. One of the major conditions for CVDs is thrombosis which is also one of the common complications after taking COVID-19 vaccines. However, we aim to design a project that is suitable for people all around the world of all ages. Our goal is to prevent thrombosis in an early stage by taking Nattokinase with the help of our convenient device and Nattokinase releasing system.

Therefore, we designed the following:

1.  A home D-dimer detection device
We use a 3D-model printer to print our user-friendly detection device. By adding our saliva on the top-front of our device, a person only needs to spend 10-20 min to get the results. With this rapid test device, people of all ages could get ready access to their thrombosis risk at home.

2.  A convenient App
Since 21th century is under the world of technology and innovation, we use MIT App inventor and Arduino to connect our detection device with our mobile phone. The app we invented could show the risk of thrombosis and send an infrared red signal to control the release of Nattokinase by clicking the “release button” or “not release button” in the app.

3.  The optogenetics system to control Nattokinase production
Our engineered bacteria will produce and secrete Nattokinase in the small intestine controlled through the App. Therefore, we came up with an optogenetics system to build the connection between the App and the engineered bacteria that survives inside the human body.

In conclusion, “Natto it out” is an integrated project from diagnosis to therapy that suits everyone of all ages.
More than just a concept
While conducting wet lab experiments, we were also working hard on elaborating our project by meeting up with professors, doctors, experts, and companies. First of all, we have contacted Prof. SUMI, who is a famous pioneer in Nattokinase research. Through the interview, we realized the role of Nattokinase in the field of medicine and health, which helped us a lot in setting up the goal of our project. Besides, we visited Dr. Jaw-Wen Chen and Dr. Shih-Lin Chang from Taipei Veterans General Hospital. Both of them shared many clinical experiences on taking care of patients suffering from various heart diseases. Their advice helped us a lot in revising our D-dimer detection device. To get more opinion on encapsulation, we met up with Prof. Ying-Chieh Tsai and discussed about implementing our design in engineered bacteria; far in India, Prof. Devarajan also gave us lots of advice on our encapsulation method. Lastly, we visited Dah Feng Capsule (DFC) to find the most suitable capsule for the delivery of our engineered bacteria. For more information, please visit our HP and IHP pages.

Besides academia and industry, we also learned a lot from the community. We created a public survey at the beginning of our project, from which we noticed more about public concerns and opinions. We revised our encapsulation method and probiotic format accordingly. By chance, we also visited a nursing home for the elderly and enlightened them about the importance of thrombosis prevention.

From professors, doctors, experts to the community, we are confident that our project is more than just a concept but a feasible design.
Safety and Challenges
Our Nattokinase is designed to be secreted by the engineered bacteria that adhere to the small intestine membrane. We realize that people might be confused whether “engineered” bacteria can stay in the human body and how it would interact with the human gut. We have focused on this question at the beginning of our project. Therefore, we discussed with Prof. Ying-Chieh Tsai, who dominates in the field of probiotics in Taiwan, about our question. Under current law, it is still prohibited to put engineered bacteria into the human intestine due to safety issues; however, Prof. Tsai believes that the application of engineered probiotics in the field of medicine and health is a future trend. For safety concerns, we designed a kill switch system and we believe that this system could be further improved in the future to protect both the environment and humans. For more information, please visit our Safety page.

Aside from the above safety obstacles, we also found out that it is hard to raise public awareness of thrombosis prevention. It is human nature that we tend to stick to something that we are familiar with—people tend to start making changes in their life habits until health problems occur; however, we believe that prevention is better than cure. We hope that through the articles on our instagram account, visit to the nursing home for the elderly, and education to local high school, more people, no matter their sex, age, and social identity, could understand the importance of thrombosis prevention issues.
Authored and maintained by Team NYCU-Taipei 2021.