Team:Botchan Lab Tokyo/HP/Gold Integrated

GOLD (Integrated Human practices)


Integrated human practices are what we can do to connect our projects with the society. We put a lot of effort on this part and explored what our project can contribute to the society.


As we start working on our project, we took a survey about things related to our project to 150 people whose majors or works are not biology-related. Some of these questions was used when deciding on project theme or realize that our project theme can contribute to the society.

First, ‘GMO (GMM)’. We also collaborated with this theme, and we understood that many countries have their quite different opinions. We could seek the opinions from the laws, but we wanted to know how much do Japanese people around us know about GMO, and what they think about it.

From this question, we knew that 70% people know about GMO, but only few people know well about it. So, we decided to include GMO as one of the contents of the handbook that we made.

The question ‘What do you think about GMO?’ shows that about half of the people think good about GMO, but 38 % people don’t. This result is very interesting because we thought that many people would answer ‘bad’ since many of the food products has a label that says ‘ Not genetically modified’ on the package, and most of the people know that there is this kind of labels on packages.

Second, we did a survey about nutrients and the world hunger . The world hunger is one of the biggest backgrounds of our project and also the reason why we really wanted to accomplish it. World hunger is quite known word these days, but this survey is about how people think they know, and even about the health of people in Japan.

Although 26 % of the people answered ‘carbohydrates’ is the most important nutrient, which contain the most calories, 53 % of the people answered ‘protein’ is the most important nutrient. From this result, we can know that people think proteins are more important than carbohydrates. This is because that even if you intake enough calories with carbohydrates but lack of proteins, it may lead you serious developmental disorders. With this result and what we learned at United Nation World Food Programme (written below), we decided to do project of synthesizing amino acids (proteins).

This question shows that more than the half of the people knows about the world hunger happening in the world. But surprisingly, 43 % answered that they don’t know about it. Many of us know that many people are suffering from hunger, but not more in details. Because we had the chance to research about the world hunger, we wanted to share the information of real situations in details and what we can do to help those people. So same as GMO, we decided to include the contents of the world hunger into our handbook.

We got an interesting result from this question. Most of Japanese people can have what they want to eat, and Japanese food ‘Washoku’ is known as the healthy food. However, only 17 % answered ‘Good’, and 42 % answered ‘Bad’. This result shows the difficulty of getting an ideal balance of nutrition even if you live in Japan, and also people’s awareness of the health is high since many people answered ‘Bad’, meaning they need to improve more.

Last theme is ‘intestine bacteria/environment’. This phrase is really famous in Japan. This is because many products, which are considered to be good for our intestine environments, are sold in Japan. For example, yogurts, yakults, supplements, and even chocolates. Since intestine bacteria are very familiar to people, we wanted to know what do they think about them, and how much they know.

We realized that Japanese people are quite familiar with intestine bacteria by this survey, and we also knew that many people think positive about intestinal bacteria, so we chose to synthesize amino acids using intestinal bacteria (E. coli).

Nitrogen fixation is essential for some living organisms in many ways. For example, basic compounds like nucleotides for DNA and RNA are synthesized using nitrogen fixation pathway in some plants, animals,and other organisms. Some of the artificial ways of converting nitrogen into other nitrogen compounds like ammonia synthesizing are developed and these are very important in industrial field. However, 74 % of the people don’t know or only have heard the word but don’t know. We thought we have to explain what nitrogen fixation is and how important it is, so we wrote about nitrogen fixation in the handbook.

<Visiting Metabologenomics, Inc.>

On August 8th, September 17th, October 15th we visited Metabologenomics, Inc., a company engaging in researches regarding intestine environments. (On September 17th, sue to the typhoon, we couldn’t visit so we video called) On August 8th, Metabologenomics, Inc. held a competition ‘ MetaGEM’; a competition of ideas of projects theming intestine and synthetic biology. In this competition, 3 teams of iGEM in Japan participated, and we got a lot of advice from researchers actually researching on intestine environments/ bacteria. We got feedbacks on our experiments and the problems of our experiments. As one of the feedbacks, the researchers told us the problem of fixing the engineered bacteria on intestines. Intestinal epithelium is covered with mucous layer. But fluidity of intestinal environments is very high, so it is quite difficult to fix. After getting this feedback, we researched about fixation and found that the core of intestinal flora is formed until children under 1000 days. Therefore, it is relatively easy to fix the bacteria from outside to intestines and the possibility of fixation of bacteria is higher with children under 1000 days. On September 17th and October 15th, Metabologenomics, Inc. held a chance for 3 iGEM teams to have a practice of presentation in 20 minutes. There was also a question period and we could experience quite the same situation in Jamboree. And we got feedbacks on presentations and power point slides as well as the experiment.

<Visiting WFP>

On September 13th, we visited United Nation World Food Programme Japan office in Yokohama. The background of this project is saving people from hunger and malnutrition of proteins. We knew that more than 20 million people are in the brink of starvation, so we wanted to know about malnutrition and hunger happening in the world today in more details. We learnt what are happening in those areas where tremendous people are having problems with their foods and what are they doing for living. Many of the people in hunger usually live in rural areas, but recently, people suffer from hunger are also increasing in urban areas and they form a slam. Mainly children under the age of 5, women have tendency of suffer from hunger. There are some farmers take in enough carbohydrates with grains, but suffer from malnutrition because of lack of proteins and vitamins. We realize again that the lack of proteins is one of the major reasons leading malnutrition and hunger as well as carbohydrates. We also learned what WFP are doing for these people and what we have to do for them. In detail, check the handbook we made.

<Contacting MorishitaJintan>

We took contact with a company, Morishitajintan. One of our concerns of our project was ‘how to send engineered bacteria to intesitines?’ We knew that only few bacteria have tolerance to gastric acid (pH 1~2 when not eating, pH 4~5 when eating), and even if bacteria won’t die, the amount of engineered E.coli will absolutely decrease. We participated on an event called ‘ Career Discovery Forum’ on June 24th. In this forum, we had a chance to talk with employees of MorishitaJintan, and they told us about ‘seamless capsule’. We assume that using ‘seamless capsule’ which was developed by ‘MorishitaJintan’ , the engineered E.coli can reach to intestines without destroyed by gastric acid because ‘seamless capsule’ is covered with a special acid resistant film and a protection layer. This seamless capsule shows a high survival rate of the survival rate of bacteria after an acid tolerance test (look at the figure below).


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