About Our Project


● Inspiration
At the beginning of 2021, a short video was circulated on the Internet, showing the daily life of two kids that were seriously burned. The brother fed his sister with a spoon as usual, although their bodies were almost completely covered with gauze. When we watched this video, we couldn't help but sympathize with them and their families. Therefore, we began to learn about burns and hoped to use synthetic biology to promote the development of burn treatment.
Lack of supervision over children, low education level of parents, crowded housing and low socio-economic status are risk factors for burns. The above facts are concentrated in urban villages, which are very common in Shenzhen, the city where we live. We are determined to provide fire safety information and synthetic biology knowledge to children living in urban villages, because they are the least likely to escape in case of a fire.
Check out the HP link to see how we teach children about fire safety and synthetic biology.
● Problem
Burn and Infection
It was estimated that 7.105 million people were burned by fire in 2004, and 11 million people sought medical care for all types of burns, the frequency of hospitalization of children for burns worldwide is 8 per 100,000.
When people are burned, the wound is easily infected. Infection is still the most common cause of morbidity and mortality for burn patients.
Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Infection in Burn Wounds
Pseudomonas aeruginosa remains the most frequent gram-negative microorganism from burn wounds. Consideration of this organism is important because it causes severe and often fatal hospital-acquired infections, especially in immunocompromised hosts, despite aggressive antibiotic therapy.
Selection of antibiotic treatment for P. aeruginosa is complex because it is usually resistant. In addition, antibiotics affect the skin microbiota and damage surrounding skin cells. The development of new antibiotics takes a long time and costs high. Therefore, it is of great significance to find a new therapeutic.
Dressing for Local Burn Wound Care
Appropriate dressing is also important for burn wound healing of burn patients. The dressing can protect the wound surface, and act as a barrier to foreign microorganisms, as well as maintain a moist environment.
Although various dressing materials has been developed, the present commercial materials are far from ideal. For example, cotton gauze, a traditional dressing material, often adhere to the wound surface when changing and removing, causing secondary injury.
● Solution
To solve the above problems, we came up with several ideas. First, because antibiotics have many disadvantages, we replace it with a specific antipseudomonal protein. Second, bacterial cellulose (BC), a novel biological dressing, has become an ideal material as it has high mechanical strength and good water holding capacity. Moreover, with its good biocompatibility, BC will not adhere on the wound surface when removing or changing the dressing, thus reducing the pain of patients. Then, we thought of the idea of combining the antipseudomonal drug with the dressing made of BC, in order to better control the wound infection and promote the wound healing of burn patients.
We chose Gluconacetobacter hansenii ATCC 53582 as our chassis, which can naturally produce BC and provide our products in the form of engineered live bacterial therapeutics.
We genetically modified G. hansenii so that it can act as a molecular factory that continuously produces specific antipseudomonal proteins. We also introduced optogenetics, a biological technique that involves the use of light to control the bacteria. The engineered G. hansenii could produce BC film only when needed, thus reducing metabolic burden and decreasing the mutation rate of G. hansenii.
We expect that under the dark, G. hansenii nearly won't produce BC. Under the near infrared light G. hansenii started to produce BC. Under the blue light, G. hansenii would lyse and release the antipseudomonal proteins.
Check out the Design link to see details.
● About Our Project
Project Name
When it comes to "Kissed by Light", many people think of "Kissed by Fire". In Chinese, "Kissed By Fire" is a metaphor for "burn", and it is also where we got inspiration. Our project is to develop a more efficient therapeutic with less pain, featuring optogenetics to help patients recover from burn injuries, which is just like giving a soft kiss.
Our logo was designed by one of our team members, Chun Zheng. When she showed the logo for the first time, her words left a deep impression on all of us. In China, we often say that children are the future flowers of our country and represent hope. As our project was inspired by news of Children, a cartoon logo could remind where we started all the time. Also, this logo incorporates many elements, each of which symbolizes a special meaning of our project.
● References
[1] Peck M D, Epidemiology of burn injuries globally. UpToDate.
[2] Gauglitz G G, Shahrokhi S, Williams F N, Burn wound infection and sepsis. UpToDate.
[3] Shi Z, Zhang Y, Phillips G O, et al. Utilization of bacterial cellulose in food[J]. Food hydrocolloids, 2014, 35: 539-545.
[4] Fu L, Zhang Y, Li C, et al. Skin tissue repair materials from bacterial cellulose by a multilayer fermentation method[J]. Journal of Materials Chemistry, 2012, 22(24): 12349-12357.
[5] Fan J, Gao Y, Huang Y, et al. Current Therapies for Pseudomonas aeruginosa Infection[J]. Journal of Integration Technology, 2019, 10(4): 17-23.