Initial Ideas


During the initial development phase, we had many ideas for the direction in which we could take an iGEM project. We have detailed some of them below.

Idea Pros Cons
Disco Yoghurt - yoghurt that changed flavour upon exposure to different colour lights
  • Fun (would get to eat yoghurt)
  • Easy to generate monochromatic light
  • Bacteria respond to light already
  • Not really a ‘real world issue'
  • Would take a lot of work to generate different receptor/response regulator pairs
Fe. coli - absorbing iron in the gut to aid people who cannot absorb iron well; eg pregnant women
  • Easily applicable real world problem
  • Can follow and build on the work of previous iGEM teams
  • Lots of methods already exist to increase iron levels - why would synthetic biology be the one solution?
Circadian rhythms - modifying circadian rhythms with the aim of having a temporal release of a drug without having to remember to take it
  • Currently a very popular topic (see recent Nobel awards)
  • Could work as a foundational advance or as a therapeutic when applied
  • Very complicated topic!
  • Would first have to recreate the rhythm in E. coli before attempting to perturb it. Hard to validate.
Curli yoghurt - A yoghurt with a peptide that has emerging clinical value for patients with IBD
  • Access to a group of patients to survey, through team member
  • Clear real-world problem
  • Involves a currently-developing treatment - very relevant
  • Clinical trials may disprove the benefits of curli
  • May be hard to produce the complex peptide in E. coli
  • Hard to model
Biofilm plasters - Using biofilms to our aid to absorb pathogens that would otherwise infect a patient and may cause sepsis
  • Clear real-world problem
  • Clear applied design
  • We have good access to hospitals for research and advice
  • Hard to control a biofilm in the lab
  • Biofilms not well-enough understood to know obvious sites for perturbation

We decided on a synthetic biology diagnostic device with the aim of creating something which was modular and adaptable. This is because it has a clear real-world application, a clear niche for synthetic biology and a clear want from the public (as discovered by our survey). This meant it was the perfect place from which to develop an iGEM project.

Our next task was to decide on a case-study disease to properly direct our project towards a real-world problem. Read more about our case study, Chagas disease, here.