Team:Toulouse-INSA-UPS/Achievements

ACHIEVEMENTS


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Medal Criteria


Bronze Medal Criteria


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  • #1: We successfully registered for the iGEM competition, we had a great summer and we cannot wait for the Giant Jamboree to start 😀 .
  • #2: All the required competition deliverables were completed in due time:
    • We documented our entire project on the wiki
    • We filled out the judging form to compete for awards.
    • We prepared an amazing presentation and a beautiful poster for the Giant Jamboree
  • #3: We created an Attributions page where we thank everyone who helped us during the 2018 season.
  • #4: We successfully completed the Interlab Measurement study, you can find more on this page.

Silver Medal Criteria


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    • #1: Three new BioBricks of our own design worked as expected, and we successfully submitted a sample of these new parts to the Registry:

      - BBa_K2668010 Cerberus

      - BBa_K2668020 Sirius

      - BBa_K2668070 mTagBFP

    • #2: We are very proud of our collaborations with iGEM teams all around the world
    • #3: We achieved a deep human practice approach, encompassing interviews, surveys, discussions with iGEM teams, an ethical matrix, an entrepreneurship effort, interventions in schools and high-schools, press articles, participations in events and the improvement of a game to learn microbiology!

Gold Medal Criteria


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  • #1: We successfully integrated our human practice approach in order to improve the Cerberus project.
  • #2: We are proud of our modelling effort which allowed us to validate the design of the Cerberus platform.
  • #3: We demonstrated our project by functionalizing cellulose with color, fluorescence or even paramagnetism.

Special Prizes


Best Model


For our iGEM project, we designed a versatile protein platform to enable the fixation of a wide range of organic and inorganic molecules on cellulose. Modelling this three-headed fusion protein presented a complex challenge, requiring a multi-step and multi-level strategy relying on various molecular modelling and simulation methods. We used available crystallographic structure data from the Protein Data Bank, integrated 3D structure prediction tools, employed innovative artificial intelligence methods (derived from robotics) to explore the intrinsically disordered regions present in Cerberus, built and parametrized the unnatural amino acid azidophenylalanine, and finally studied its behavior over time through large-scale molecular dynamics simulations in explicit water solvent. This required 100 000 hours of CPU time and generated a whopping 85 GB of data. All of the results obtained during this novel workflow supported us in our design and allowed our wetlab team to perform their experiments in full confidence.


For more details, check out our Model page!

Best Applied Design


This year, we favored the design of a pure engineered synthetic proteic assembly and didn’t target a specific worldwide problem. We created a versatile proteic platform able to functionalize at will cellulose, a polymer commonly used in a wide variety of industrial processes. From antibacterial peptides to carbon nanotubes or paramagnetic beads, there are applications aplenty and we amply demonstrated that over the summer. There are two keys for such an achievement. The first is a careful design to ensure the project success in the short time span of the summer. The second is the combination of state-of-the-art approaches in synthetic biology and chemistry such as the use of unnatural amino acid. Even if ethical aspects and consequences were thoroughly investigated, the possibilities and applications issued from Cerberus are so large it is difficult to anticipate all the impacts it could have in our lives.


For more details, check out our Applied Design page!

Best Public Engagement


During the Cerberus project, we met the public on several occasions and we soon understood the crucial importance of communicating and educating. We therefore participated in scientific and non-scientific events, explained our project in the media and committed ourselves to making children aware of the possibilities of biotechnologies. We also carried on the development of a card game, MicrobioWorld, explaining molecular biology and microbiology in a fun way. Even though these actions were important at a local scale, it was frustrating not to reach more people. We therefore initiated contacts with the French Ministry of Education and we helped them to develop a pedagogic wallet distributed to all the “Sciences and Laboratory Techniques” high schools, at a national scale. They loved MicrobioWorld which will be part of the wallet. So, our Education & Public Engagement does not end with iGEM but will be pursued for the year to come, or even longer.


For more details, check out our Public Engagement page!

Best Entrepreneurship


We truly believe that our project could pave the way to the development of a successful start-up. We therefore launched an entrepreneurship approach to design the business model of such a company. We first met biotech startups and technology transfer centers to confront our project to real businesses. Then, in collaboration with a startup incubator, we developed several aspects of the business. We identified the most critical points of the project and developed a business plan to assess its value, feasibility and durability in terms of marketing, finance and law. These led us to define our future company as centered on advice, design and innovation to provide manufacturers with functionalized molecules produced by our sub-contractors. It’s time to knock on bank doors!


For more details, check out our Entrepreneurship page!

Best Human Practices


The Cerberus project was designed to offer countless new possibilities for cellulose functionalization and beyond, so that it should impact a lot of people in their everyday life. Our first priority was therefore to meet these people and talk over their fears and expectations to orient our project accordingly. We conducted interviews of manufacturers and created surveys for both professionals and end-users. We also asked ourselves and fellow iGEMers from different continents to compare our visions of biotechnologies. A very important point was to talk with experts about what we intended to do. Cerberus is a blend of chemistry and synthetic biology so these discussions were absolutely necessary for the project design. Last but not least, we created an ethical matrix to define how our project could impact society and the environment. Clearly, the IHP was not a subtask of the Cerberus Project but the main reason for its success.


For more details, check out our Human Practices page!

Best Basic Part


A best new part should be fully characterized, have a touch of novelty, demonstrated efficiency, and should inspire the next generation of iGEMers. We feel the Cerberus part matches this statement. It encodes a protein platform with three domains to link very different organic or inorganic molecules. We have proven its strong affinity for cellulose and the functionality of its streptavidin head, but its more impressive asset is its azidophenylalanine head, based on an unnatural amino acid which allows the grafting of any molecule with an alkyne function by click chemistry. The structure and dynamics of Cerberus were methodically modelled. We also demonstrated its efficiency to functionalize cellulose with fluorescence or magnetism, but its potential goes well beyond that since it virtually allows linking any molecule to any other, even cell polymers. We are very curious to see what the next iGEM teams will do with it!


For more details, check out our Basic Parts page!