Making Engineering of Customised Kill Switches Easier
Many SynBio groups are engineering microbes that could one day be useful in detecting diseases, fighting cancer and monitoring heavy metals in rivers. However, engineered microbes may leak into the non-designated environment, posing threats to our natural ecosystem. This is a major hurdle towards the commercialization of engineered microbes. To address this, we need effective kill switches to prevent engineered microbes from escaping into the environment. However, existing kill switches have limitations and, more importantly, it is difficult to readily tailor make kill switches for different applications.
Currently, there is no harmonized framework for kill switch design and construction. Team NUSgem aims to make engineering of such customised, effective kill switches easier. To this end, we are developing a library of characterized sensors, a killing and verification module which can be used in computer-aided design and modelling tool (such as CELLO and AdvanceSyn Studio ) and can be readily modelled. As a proof of concept, we will focus on developing a kill switch for engineered probiotics for human health.
We are a team of 6 undergraduates and 1 recent graduate student from different disciplines including Biomedical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Science and Economics.