Partnership with Healios
June 4th, 2018
For our project, we had an opportunity to partner up with Healios, a biotech company in Japan that works in the field of stem cell regenerative medicine. The CEO of the company, Dr. Kagimoto, gave us insights on how we can integrate this new field of stem cells to our project. One idea of how this may work is to take patient derived stem cell, fix the gene, then place it back so that it would regenerate in the human body in the right location. Since this year, we were able to confirm that CRISPR Cas9 works on fixing the mutation of the disease in a living system, we are hoping to develop our project further in the future to ultimately apply CRISPR Cas9 on animal, and eventually human stem cells. In fact, there was a recent paper written by Chu-Qing Song and Dan Wang that was published in August this year that already demonstrated this proof of concept in a murine model, a mammalian system. (Song, 2018) Promising results like these further validate the potential of gene therapy in treating patients of A1AT Deficiency along with range of other mutational diseases.
Contact with Dr. Seyama
August 14, 2018
Another expert we were able to contact was Dr. Seyama, who is a researcher on A1AT Deficiency in Juntendo University in Japan. What he provided us was further insight on A1AT Deficiency itself especially regarding the mechanism and progression of the disease as well as the current clinical treatment applied to patients. This kind of insight helped us reinforce our understanding on why a treatment using CRISPR Cas9 and stem cell would be more beneficial compared to the treatment we have as of now.
Advice from Tokyo Tech and Gifu iGEM team
August 14, 2018
During the summer, we had an opportunity to attend the Tokyo Tech meetup, where many iGEM teams from across Japan gathered to share each other's project. During this meetup, we were able to get helpful suggestions on ways to modify our constructs. Specifically, we told them about how we were struggling with protein purification process using column chromatography and in response, the members of the Tokyo Tech and Gifu team suggested that we could incorporate Histidine tag into our construct so that A1AT proteins would be secreted with Histidine attached and afterwards run it in a nickel lined column to purify the His-tagged proteins. By incorporating this suggestion, the protein purification process became more precise, smoother, and faster allowing us to get a result in our fluorescent analysis of purified proteins that showed His tag construct was our best construct in secretion of proteins. Because we got this advice and because we went to this meetup, we were able to create a construct that worked the best amongst the two other ones that we tested.
iGEM Pakistan Video Call
June 26, 2018
During the summer portion of our lab work, we participated in a Skype call with the Pakistan high school iGEM team, known as LACAS Biobots. We explained our projects to each other, took virtual lab tours, and got to know another HS team and the different ways in which various teams work.
Tokyo Tech Meetup
August 8, 2018
During the summer, iGEM teams from across Japan attended a meetup held by Tokyo Tech University. KAIT, Bochan lab, Gifu University, Tokyo Tech, and ASIJ. Our team presented, along with the other teams, the progress we have made throughout the year. After each presentation, we had a QnA where many good suggestions were made, which everybody followed up on after all the presentations over snacks. Our team received a helpful suggestion from the Tokyo Tech and Gifu team about the use of a histidine tag to simplify and speed up the protein purification process, also making a more accurate result.
DNA Fingerprinting with ASIJ Summer Passport Program
June 21st, 2018
At ASIJ summer school, iGEM students helped to educate middle school students taking a forensic science course about utilizing fingerprints for crime investigation. We talked about the use of gel electrophoresis and explained the function of restriction enzymes and electricity for the experiment. Finally, we let everyone in the group use the scientific procedure to discover their unique fingerprints.
GOA Online Presentation
September 17, 2018
iGEM students talked to Medical Problem Solving I students on Global Online Academy (GOA) about future treatments with immunotherapy, gene therapy, and cell therapy with iPS stem cells. GOA is a collection of online courses that are in schools in over 24 countries, allowing us to reach a broad and multinational group of students. In our presentation, we implemented a case study with A1AD Deficiency to showcase our use of CRISPR editing in our iGEM project and future use of organ buds.
Back to School Night
September 20, 2018
Back to School Night is a day where parents come to school to meet their child's teachers. On this day, the iGEM team presented to a group of parents who were interested in learning about what we do as a club. We explained about our project and things we learned by being on the team.