Silver Medal Human Practices
"Human Practices is the study of how your work affects the world, and how the world affects your work."
— Peter Carr, Director of Judging
We are willing to introduce the advanced science to the public. Therefore, we went to a community near our campus, Shangdeyuan Housing Estate, and organized a workshop. People aged ranging 4 to 65 engaged our events and workshops to know more about synthetic biology.
The residents showed their curiosity about what synthetic biology is. Therefore, we introduced the biosynthetic products around us and the significance of genetically engineered organisms. Though they expressed concerns about genetically modified foods, we used vivid examples to dispel their wariness to some degree.
To evoke enthusiasm for science in children, we prepared several interesting experiments that were easy to carry out. To our surprise, children were quite into them. We also played games while educated them about knowledge of biology like making the cell model with the eraser, teaching them the structure of the cell, drawing DNA on a blackboard etc. Even though our activities had finished for a long time, people were reluctant to leave.
TUST-China also went to Tianjin Haihe Middle School this summer and our instructor went with us. We interacted with the students and let them answer some questions. For example: "Are you interested in biology?" "Has anyone ever heard of synthetic biology? Do you know it?" "Can you guess what is the main research in synthetic biology?" The students are very positive to answer our questions, we gave the students the badges of our team as souvenirs. The interaction lead us to the introduction of synthetic biology. We've also introduced iGEM to them and showed them how to take part in iGEM as a high school student.
After listening to our introduction, they had a better understanding of biology . For us, it's quite a good experience to communicate with middle school students and to teach them what we've obtained in taking iGEM competition.
Consulting BC Company
We inquired about LEE'S PHARM and collected data related on Hemicelluose Dressing-- Veloderm. Owing to its unique nano-scale three-dimensional network structure, BC has a high-water retention, high mechanical strength, and outstanding biocompatibility, which enable it to serve as a natural scaffold material for the regeneration of a wide variety of tissues. For most wound-repairing materials, important characteristics are their ability to lock exudate during the dressing process, as well as their removal from wound surface after recovery. BC’s potential lies in the unique properties (such as the high mechanical strength) of the never-dried BC membrane; on the other hand, its high liquid absorbency, biocompatibility and hygienic nature perfectly cater to the specific demands for skin tissue repairing. Thus, considering the properties of BC as well as its clinical performance, the commercialization of BC for wound caring is very promising.
Since we almost finished our project, we would like to know the manufacture view of our work and the production of some BC products. Therefore, we visited Shandong Nameide Biotechnology Co., Ltd. Their product is a bacterial cellulite wound dressing named Nanuomei.
The company's R & D manager received us and took us to visit the production workshop. She introduced us their mode of producing, which is quite different from the way in our laboratory. For example, in the lab we used the conical flask to produce BC, while BC was produced in a huge metal tray in the factory.
Besides, we introduced our iGEM project to her for advice. She thought our work was very meaningful and had been achieved increasing BC production, but she had doubts about whether it is suitable for the factory because the production methods and the production environment is totally different.
We plan to test the results of our iGEM project in the factory in the future. And we hope that our project can increase the yields of BC and be applied in the industry. From this trip, we have cleared industry demands and we are more confident that our project is useful and meaningful.
Q：Why is the application of BC in China rare? The reason why the BC products are low-value.
A: BC has high water retention, high mechanical strength and outstanding biocompatibility. This means BC can be used in medical products and cosmetics. However, these types of products fail to widely appear on the market because of its cost. Producing BC medical products and beauty products is very strictly controlled, which requires professional equipment and workers, so it is costly. In contrast, BC food products such as coconut production is very simple and inexpensive. That is why BC mainly produced into some low-value products such as food. Therefore, if you can optimize the pathway of Acetobacter xylinus to increase BC production, you may reduce the cost of BC products in the future.
Q: What is the focus of future research on BC materials?
A: BC composites can make up for the deficiency of natural BC, but there are still problems of high producing cost, low performance and low level of industrialization. To solve these problems, the future research focuses on:
- Obtaining stable and high yield strains through efficient genetic engineering.
- Exploring the new BC industrial producing methods, including the design of efficient and inexpensive biofilm production device.
- Use BC structure of light-based easy to combine and synthetic biology, improve product value and expand the scope of product applications.
Q: What is the current situation in BC production?
A: BC production is slow, so the fermentation cycle is very long. In addition, the producing process requires sterile conditions. Thus, the production requires a lot of labor cost and capital investment. Therefore, the study now focus on accelerating the speed of fermentation so that BC could film quickly.