1. Best Model
Our innovative modeling work has been closely integrated with wet lab work this year. It helps us design experiments reasonably and have a better knowledge of some quantitative features of the biological system. It also complements our experiments by considering the project as a whole.
The growth simulator model predicts the trend of the change of our coculture system and gives suggestions to improve our product. The two-part flux accelerator model simulates a more complex metabolic network and successfully selects enzymes that have the most potential to promote the decomposition of fatty acids.
We fully analyzed the parameters and relations in the mathematical model (such as Sensitivity Analysis of the growth simulator model), which made our work very in-depth. Meanwhile, two different parts of FBA model allowed us to choose between simplicity and complexity, and finally obtained conclusions that were more realistic and of great guiding significance.
2. Best Education
We have explored multiple ways to engage in education, featuring combining online and offline work, covering all age groups, carefully designing education material, actively participating in educational cooperation.
To attract more people to participate in or learn about iGEM and synthetic biology, we continued to use our official account of WeChat, a social media platform, to publicize our project and related knowledge.
Meanwhile, we delivered public lectures to primary school students, high school students and undergraduates in different ways. For example, we focused on entertainment to guide children to search the new world of microorganisms, while we paid more attention to the mechanism of synthetic biology when giving lectures to undergraduates. Education materials including a small game, a poster, a popular science brochure, memes and stickers are designed.
To extend the recipients, we joined a league called ICII(Into China, into iGEM), and coordinated to make brochures. We also established a league for skin projects to create an inclusive and sustainable community for popular science activities.
3. Best Hardware
To build a high throughput automation platform, hardware is designed in our project this year. The hardware is based on microfluidic chips and 3D printing technology to optimize the directed evolution process. The structure of the chip is carefully designed to capture one bacterium and one microbead per array so that the directed evolutionary process using EP-PCR can be accomplished with high throughput and at the single-cell level. The microfluidic chip was successfully constructed, passing the tests of chip matching, chip path detection, loading beads and bacteria and finally forming water-in oil droplets. At the same time, we ensure that the operation is simple and operable, and everyone can achieve the purpose. We provide a detailed chip production process and specific parameters to facilitate the subsequent teams to continue to build a high-throughput platform. In addition, we documented how to manufacture the chip fixture by 3D printing.
4. Best Integrated Human Practice
Having seen acnes bothering our daily life, we thought about solving it by synthetic biology. Through word cloud of video comments and plenty of interviews from professors, doctors, enterprises and shop assistants (stakeholder), we tried to clarify what was people concerned about when talking about acne treatment, which inspired us to design the fatty acid sensing module for minimal side effects. And though the year, we’re thirsty for suggestions from them and continued to polish our project.
We were also committed to working towards a fairer and more inclusive world by making science popularization to people of all ages. Their response let us pay more attention to the acceptability of future products. During this year, we cooperated with other teams and alliances, which has benefited each other a lot. We led the Skin Alliance and made brochures, together with some memes, stickers and games on phones to arouse interest.
Moreover, we have kept a tight connection with our PIs, to maintain a high standard in safety and responsibility, which can be proved by our completed work both in and out of the lab.
5. Inclusivity award
Our team has always put the realization of inclusivity as one of our most important goals. This year, we included more people, serving in different areas, than ever before.
To begin with, we interviewed doctors at the Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University for their suggestions and opinions on our project. We relied on the specialized knowledge they kindly provided to improve our project.
What’s more, we included high school students in our project. By designing questionnaires, we were able to learn the current understanding of young people, the primary acne sufferers. And this knowledge in turn served to further tune what we were doing to what the public expected.
We carefully designed a small game for children and made brochures to the public, with some memes and stickers to arouse interest, which all help to remove the barriers for the public to learn about and participate in synthetic biology.
Lastly, we invited people from enterprises to take part in our project, specifically, in the construction of our business plan. We can say with great certainty, that it’s their great help that pushed our project further.
6. Best supporting entrepreneurship
In the process of our project, we comprehensively consider many basic questions about the future commercialization of the project. We analyze the market of acene treatment from different aspects, consider the form and value of our product overall, conduct risk assessments and propose viable commercial solutions. Lastly, we finished our business plan for the future organization and development of our project, which is very convenient for us to communicate with partner companies and relevant institutions of the school. At the same time, we also have exchanges with multiple prominent enterprises to expand our project impact and facilitate business cooperation with them when promoting the project in the future. We have won recognition from the school's employment guidance center, Ascentage Pharma and Humanwell Healthcare.
7. Best measurement
This year, we have done many quantitative measurements to evaluate our work. Based on the principle that free fatty acids can combine with copper ions to form fatty acid copper salts, which are dissolved in chloroform, we used extraction spectrophotometry to detect the concentration of free fatty acids in the culture environment. In addition, by examining the fluorescence result in conditions of varying concentrations of fatty acids, we quantitatively evaluated the performance of the fatty acid sensing module. The improvement of the RBS and the two DBTL cycles in this part are all based on this quantitative data. Furthermore, we tested the inhibition ability against P. acnes by measuring the absorbance value at 600 nm of the solutions. These quantitative data make us clear about the improvement direction to deepen the project and enable reuse building on the reported devices, systems, and protocols.
We have explored four SDGs in our work on developing a novel acne therapy to help people suffering from this annoying disease: SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being, SDG 4: Quality Education, SDG 8: Decent work and Economic growth and SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure.
Acne is so common that it has long-term social and economic implications, affecting people’s physical and mental health.
For SDG 3, through researches and interviews, we found shortcomings in existing acne treatment. Our project itself focuses on treating acne, minimizing the side effects. We also carried out a lot of acne science popularization activities to help everyone understand and deal with acne.
For SDG 4, our team has designed different education activities aimed at people of all ages, including kids, senior school students, university students and the public. Education materials include a small game, a popular science brochure and stickers are designed.
For SDG 8, we have written a complete business plan and won recognition from the school's employment guidance center, Ascentage pharma and Humanwell Healthcare.
For SDG 9, we have used social media to create an inclusive and sustainable community for popular science activities. Memes created by us will further enhance our influence.