Through series of visiting and interviews with professionals (learn the details below in integrated human practice summary), we were eventually able to apply our RNA interference strategy to HCC therapeutic. Then we continued our human practice by promoting the public awareness of HCC, our project and synthetic biology.
First, we were curious as to how people view HCC. So a public survey about HCC was conducted, and then we realized that their understanding about this deadly disease is generally shallow and misguided. In light of such situation we felt the need for a booklet which is now accessible online in which basic HCC prevention and treatment are discussed.
Then, to widen the impact of our project on campus, we organized an Innovation Experiment for College Students study group based on our RNAi system and three junior students joined to learn our project. They were able to practice some experimental techniques such as molecular cloning.
Promoting synthetic biology has always been our mission, this iGEM season marks the third year of our life science student club CPU Bio-X Club. The popularity of this club elevated greatly this year with weekly professional lectures and a big campus-ranged event. We also tried some other novel ways including the TEDx speech “Synthetic biology, creating a better future” and on-street interviews.
This year, CPU-CHINA conducted integrated human practices by link it with the design of our project, not only in parts design, but also in our future business plan since we were eager to develop a therapy that suits public needs. In the first place, we developed a highly selective novel RNA interference strategy and hoped that it could be applied to certain diseases. We interviewed with clinical oncologists, researched on relevant literature and decided on HCC. We also added disease-specific promoters which could help reduce side effects usually involved in cancer therapy, as well as a small-molecule-dependent switch which would be useful for individual administration through our interview and literature researching as well.
Since the specific parts had been designed, testing the practical plausibility of our application became the priority. We interviewed with several business experts to discuss the project in real business settings, which led to a business plan. In that plan we thoroughly considered the current market, our competition and our strength.
Last, we tried to learn patients’ reflection about our strategy. We once thought they might feel reluctant because gene therapy is not the most common method for cancer treatment, but soon we found that such concern was unnecessary. We communicated with patients from a huge cancer association, especially one that has much benefitted from novel cancer therapy. He confirmed the significance of specific and effective drugs regardless of how anything is popular at the moment.