Accomplishing Gold Medal Criteria
1. Integrated Human Practices: Our Human Practices page describes how we took the information we obtained from our survey (here) and subsequent interactions we had with worldwide group of scientists to better understand the potential of using plant expression systems for the production of pharmaceuticals. Some of this interaction involved reading scientific articles or papers that were recommended by some of the professionals. Using the information they provided us, we were able to integrate our human practices into our modelling too, showing how plants could be used as biofactories due to their easy capacity to be scaled up, and the linearity of it.
2. Improve a previous part or project: The iGEM Phytobricks are present in the registry just as individual level 0 parts. We generated and characterised a composite part (here) that allows for the constitutive expression of luciferase in the Nicotiana benthamiana leaf system. This construct can serve as a control for subsequent experiments using this expression system. The constitutively expressed part BBa_K2404013 can be used alongside other constructs to demonstrate the effectiveness of an experiments leaf transformations, a process that is highly variable. This composite part is therefore extremely useful for any future users of phytobricks who are using luciferase expression as an output.
Due to an unfortunate mix up we did not submit our Judging form on time. However our analysis of this composite level 1 part fulfills the Gold requirement.
Please ask any questions about this during the poster sessions.
3. Model your project: Our project was based on use of plants as a biofactory rather than just to show that we could use Nicotiana benthamiana to create a therapeutic protein. To demonstrate this, we created a model that can be used as a tool to calculate how many plants would be required to produce a single effective dose of therapeutic for a patient with a specified disease severity.The equation was developed to be flexible, so that any variable can be changed to suit new requirements and fulfil a different objective. For our project, we modelled how many plants we would need to create one effective dose of TSH-antagonist for one patient, with both severe and less severe Graves' disease. We demonstrated that the variables can be changed, by changing one of the variables ourselves. We showed that different plants used as expression vectors or using different expression systems, such as Potato Virus X or HyperTrans, resulted in different numbers of plants being required for a single effective dose. This just changed one variable, the 'plant section', but the therapeutic could change just as easily. As we had a biofactory in mind, we used information gained from our Integrated Human Practices to show that plants can be scaled up easily and linearly to create a biofactory. Using our model, and the human practices information, we calculated how many plants (of different species, cultivars, and expression systems) would be needed to give a single effective dose to every sufferer of Graves' disease in the US, assuming a mean severity of the disease. This can be seen on our modelling page.