Team:Shanghai HS United/Human Practices

Human Practice is very important part of our project. We have taken several human practice activities to show the world our invention while getting feedback to improve our project.

Interview with Food Safety Expert

The principle of our project is to use an over-express gene that facilitates the generation of flavone degrading enzymes in probiotic bacteria, promoting DAT production and consequently stimulating our immune system, resisting inflammation, aging, and cancer. To better understand our project, we interviewed Ms. Jiaxin Zhong, a foodstuff safety expert,who obtained her master degree in Food Science from the Chinese Unviersity of Hong Kong, for more professional knowledge. Ms. Zhong works on biology and nutrition. She reserves a wealth of knowledge in biology and pays attention to food safety and nutrition in her daily life. Via the interview with her, we are aware of the side effect of flavonoids and the classification, efficacy, and regulation of flavonoid drugs.

To begin with the interview, we had a great curiosity about whether the way of cooking would affect the contents and absorption of flavone. Ms. Zhong informed us that due to the structure and characteristics of flavonoids, cooking at high temperatures, such as frying, will cause rapid oxidation and loss of biological activity of flavonoids. As a result, both their content in food and absorption rate decrease. Our project aims to maximize the benefits of flavonoids. Meanwhile, we are still worried about the side effect of flavonoids on the human body. Ms. Zhong eased our worries by telling us that the human body won't be affected by the regular intake of flavonoids, and our bodily function can metabolize redundant flavonoids. Through further discussions with Ms. Zhong, we understood that only eating lots of flavonoids will lead to excessive intake, not daily. For example, leaf flavonoids in soy can increase estrogen, and excessive consumption will cause endocrine disorders, especially harmful to women. There are also flavonoids in blueberries, but it is unusual to hear a report of excessive intake of flavonoids. By further understanding flavones, we get more motivation to work on our project and investigate methods to maximize the benefits of flavonoids.

Thanks to Ms. Zhong's introduction, we know that in addition to anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects, flavonoids can also inhibit platelet coagulation and reduce thrombosis, which helps prevent cardiovascular disease. Meanwhile, the reducibility of flavonoids can also repair skin damage caused by ultraviolet light. However, the medicines containing flavonoids in the market are mainly health care products that are not dominant, and the specific classification of various compounds is not in-depth enough.

Drugs must be strictly supervised, with numerous clinical research conducted in advance to appear in the pharmaceutical market. Aside from medications, even health products are required to indicate side effects and people who are not supposed to take the drug or health care product. Therefore, the quality and safety of most drugs are guaranteed. One disadvantage of flavonoid drugs is suppressing other drugs' efficacy, such as low efficiency of blood pressure medication due to simultaneous flavonoid drug intake. In addition, people suffer from low flavonoid absorption because of intestine cell transportation and excess metabolism. Although the vast majority do not appear quite distinctively on flavonoid absorption, age cohorts are not studied in detail as a large percentage of research focuses on broad adults that are not classified. Inspired by Ms. Zhong's response, we designed a questionnaire that divided respondents' age into five groups, which could help us focus on the reaction from the middle age and the elderly. Besides age, the structures of distinguished types of flavonoids would be a factor that influences absorption rate. For instance, flavonoid aglycones need an initial breakdown to be absorbed.

In conclusion, our team is inspired a lot and learns more investigation methods through the interview with Ms. Zhong. We are more determined by our project that aims to use bioengineering to stimulate and improve the absorption of flavonoids for human bodies. By repeating experiments and continuous improvements, we are firm in promoting the effects of our products.

Street Interview

To know about the public's understanding of flavonoids, our team went to Lvdi Square, a popular place for office workers to have lunch, to conduct a social survey. We were divided into four groups and interviewed 54 people in total.

The first and second groups interviewed 27 members of the public, including 6 students, 17 young people, 3 middle-aged people, and 1 elderly people. Among 6 students, four thought it was unnecessary to develop a product that could help absorb flavone. Two students agreed that our designed product was helpful and looked forward to more mature technology. The older adults didn't know much about flavone and refused to use medicine to help absorb flavone. Among all the young people and middle-aged people, most of them were interested in our product but will pay attention to the safety and effects of the medicine. Also, several of them who didn't believe our product were worried about our product's side effects and suspicious of the validity. Some of them preferred to intake flavone from a daily diet like fruits and vegetables. As expected, almost all of the public this group interviewed didn't hear of flavone and its benefits, except for a doctor and several office workers.

The third group interviewed 16 members of the public, including 3 students, 9 young people, 2 middle-aged people and 2 older adults. The three students said they usually didn't take health care products and were not familiar with flavone. But they are looking forward to a stable and effective product to stimulate the absorption of flavonoids. Among 9 young people who are mainly office workers, it was showed that nearly all of them didn't know about flavone, except for a foreigner who learns biology. He even explained a lot about flavone, such as its structure and effects for us, and he will accept and buy our product if there is scientific evidence showing that this has the desired effect. Besides, almost all the office workers were interested in our product by considering its price and effects. One female office worker thought it might lead to gynecological diseases caused by estrogen overdose and refused to use our product. On the other hand, the two elderly were willing to try our product if it can bring benefits to their heath.

The fourth group interviewed 10 members of the public, including 4 students and 6 young people. Half of them had no idea of what flavone is. But all of them accepted products if it didn't have side-effects and can be approved by drug administration. Among the 6 young people, they didn't hear of flavone even though it is a metal. Except for two office workers who thought flavone could be taken in through daily diet, the rest of them were looking forward to our product.

To conclude with our street survey, we found out that nearly most people have an inferior understanding of flavone and its benefits, except for those who have learned biology and nutrition. Also, over half of the public is receptive to new drugs that help absorb flavonoid if the product is both safe and effective. It was shown that people who didn't trust our new drugs were worried about the side-effects or had no idea of flavone. Therefore, we need to do propaganda to the public about flavone and its benefits to the human body. What's more, safety and effects of our product need to be ensured and improved to let the public trust and try our product.


In order to know better about the public's understanding of flavone for our project, we designed a questionnaire and sent to the public. The online survey was continued for a week and a total of 348 people took part in the survey.

As a result of the survey, most of the people who finished the questionnaire are between 18 to 45 years old. We found out that about 40.8% of them will consider their preferences and nutrition of the food when they select the food. Only a few of them won't pay attention to the nutrition and kinds of the food they eat.

According to the survey, 96.55% of the public is aware of the importance of nutrition in food, while only 63.51% of them are willing to know more about food nutrition. Therefore, it is shown that even though most of the public realizes the importance of nutritious substances, they choose not to get more details about them.

When the public was asked if they knew about flavone, over half of the responses showed the public is aware of flavone. There are many flavones in our daily diet like vegetables and fruits, but we usually won't pay attention to this nutrition. From our survey, we realize the importance of letting more people know about flavone.

It is shown that about 56.61% of the public prefer to use nutrition in the food for treatment and 31.9% of them just care about the effects of treatment instead of methods. Therefore, if we can use bioengineering to promote absorption of flavone, the aim of improving functions such as anti-inflammatory,antioxidation and anti-tumor can be achieved. Also, we will get 57.18% of the public to support our project.

By referring to the survey, 85.92% of the public will choose food containing flavone after knowing about its benefits to human body.

In conclusion, people are willing to accept flavone after getting basic comprehension of flavone, such as its benefits and functions. If we can apply our technology to drugs and health care products to improve the absorption of flavone in the human body, the majority will support our product. So we get the motivation to do propaganda for flavone and let more people know about its benefits.

Expert Interview

To have a more detailed and further understanding of the effect and absorption process of flavonoids, as well as the factors of the successful transformation of flavonoids by FLR enzyme, we interviewed Dr.Zhiqiang Wen, a PhD from Zhejiang University, a postdoctoral fellow from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a visiting scholar from the University of Birmingham, and an associate professor at Nanjing Normal University.

First and foremost, we briefly introduced our topic to Dr. Wen. He expressed his support to our project in the affirmative and provided a guiding hand according to the potential problems in the experiment.

It is mentioned in Dr. Wen's words that there are three factors that determines whether injecting FLR enzyme into e-coli can convert flavonoids into DAT and activate human immune systems, which makes human bodies can absorb flavonoids more easily and stably:

  1. The range of time that e-coli stays in the intestines determines the success of the experiment. Professor Wen claimed that some fungi could colonize intestines for between 14 and 21 days, depending on the requirements throughout experiment.

  2. Flavonoids are small molecules that enter bacteria by diffusion, but the efficiency is uncertain.

  3. FLR enzyme plays an intrinsic role in the degradation of flavonoids in the strain.

These factors remind us to pay attention to this critical aspect in subsequent experiments.

When it comes to how guts absorb flavonoids, Dr. Wen asserted that all kinds of fungi present in the same place in the intestines spread in small molecules and actively encounter each other. They oxidize in bacteria and come out as small molecules. With the cooperation of microbes and intestines, flavonoids are absorbed and eventually metabolized. "Intestinal flora is different in each body." He added, “Everyone has a different diet and lifestyle, and the ecological environment of intestinal flora is different as well. Some people carry relatively more enzymes, while others do not.”

Speaking of the principle that flavonoids are anticancer, antibiotic, and anti-aging, Dr. Wen also shared his point of view. He stated that structure determines function, and as a whole, it is related to the structure of flavonoids. The natural structure is not appropriate for some microbes to live in but is sometimes appropriate for others. In addition to treating tumors and cancer, flavonoids are also used to treat some common CVDs.

As it comes to medicine that contains flavonoid compounds currently on the market, Dr. Wen mentioned many health products containing flavonoid extracts, but little for medicine. This is because flavonoids are compounds, yet Western medicine needs a clear monomer structure, chemical structure, and function, which almost none of the medicine contains flavonoid compounds.

The public widely accepts health products containing flavonoids, yet so far, there are no medicine or health products that help absorb flavonoids. Therefore, our project will be precious and helpful to the medical cause if it enters the market in the future, strengthening our confidence and determination to complete the project, hoping to contribute to the world through our efforts.

Dr.Wen also reminded us that whether the results work depends on how long the strain stays in the bacteria and whether specific flavonoid transfer proteins help pump flavonoids into the bacteria efficiently. Only when more flavonoids are present can the FLR enzyme function to degrade flavonoids. Plus, the enzymes only work in the bacteria and cannot be secreted directly into the intestines. We will pay more attention to these factors in the subsequent experiment to make it successful.

Finally, Dr. Wen reiterated his affirmation and support of our experiment. We will also revise the current experiment and business plan under Dr. Wen's encouragement to improve our project.

Field Research

After understanding the current situation of flavonoids in the research field, our project team conducted a field survey in Freshippo X membership center whom we model ourselves with, expecting the market situation of healthcare products, vegetable drinks, and fruit drinks which contain flavonoids for preparing for the commercialization of our project.

The manager of the membership center welcomed us with enthusiasm and introduced the unique operation pattern of Freshippo X membership center, including food preservation and classification, as well as the current marketing status of health products containing flavonoids, which provided a reference for our business plan.

The manager claimed that the membership store is a virtual deployment of Freshippo's transformation from online to offline. She hoped that consumers would enjoy life with their families and friends while shopping. There are all kinds of products in the store, involving more than 2000 kinds of fresh, bulk daily necessities, fruits and vegetables, beauty products, and healthcare products. All fresh products will transport through the cold chain, and there are unique direct procurement bases in China. There are specific supply chains for imported products, all recorded in the customs and ensured authenticity. Nevertheless, it is clear that food exhibited on the shelves was not systematically classified concerning its nutrition value, but based on the simplest and the most basic principles—fruits which ripen in advances such as apples and bananas should be placed at the front—and customers will not specially focus on some kinds of nutrients when picking fruit; instead, most of them will decide taste and overall nutritional value.

Hence, in terms of food, the general public consensus on the fact that fruits and vegetables are beneficial to human bodies. Yet, they do not know much about flavonoids, for they spare little attention to a particular nutrient, although flavonoids are so commonly found in all kinds of vegetables and fruits. So, we still have a long way to go in terms of public awareness if we're letting products that promote degrading flavonoids go public.

We observed healthcare products displayed on shelves and then interviewed shop assistants for more information. We discovered that the market of healthcare products containing flavonoids is very small,only 1 kind or 2 kinds,even the sales staff had a limited understanding of flavonoids and their effect on human bodies. What is worse is that consumers either knew little about the flavonoids or purchase products that contain flavonoids directly because they understood the effect of flavonoids well. Therefore, salespeople played a minor role in selling healthcare products containing flavonoids.

It can be seen that at present, the public lacks comprehension about flavonoids, and the dealers are weak in publicity, which leads to the unfavorable position of flavonoids in the market. Consequently, our research topic stands at a very broad market prospect. Suppose we can publicize flavonoids and their effects on human bodies according to people's needs of different ages in high efficiency. In that case, it is an excellent space for further development that the sales of both health care products and medicines containing flavonoids will have in the market.

Generally speaking, after a short period of field survey, we have a certain understanding of the marketing status of the products, especially health products containing flavonoids in the Freshippo X membership center: rather than based on the nutritional value of the commodities, most of the fresh and vegetables are placed randomly; most of the salespeople and consumers who buy health care products do not know much about products that contain flavonoids. We strongly hope that after finish this project, therefore, the public will have a deeper understanding on falvonoids, despite the current market status of flavonoids is not very favorable, yet considered of its numerous medical value, we believe that through effective propaganda, guide, and science, the public will widely recognize and accept flavonoids as healthcare products, which means that the extensive prospect of flavonoids is achievable someday.