Diphtheria is an infection caused by pathogenic bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae. The hallmark of diphtheria infection is pseudomembrane formation in posterior pharynx, potentially leading to respiratory tract obstruction and death. In addition, the bacterium produces toxin that enters cell via interaction with heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor (HB-EGF) receptor and inhibits protein synthesis, resulting in lethal complications such as myocarditis, bleeding problem, kidney and liver necrosis.
Despite being preventable and curable, incidence and mortality rate caused by diphtheria are still increasing, especially in developing countries including Indonesia. Recently, there has been diphtheria outbreak affecting major provinces in Indonesia, mainly in unvaccinated children and adults. Therefore, there are two issues to be highlighted: (1) lack of early detection and prompt treatment of diphtheria infection and (2) lack of awareness regarding diphtheria and vaccination among Indonesian people.
We, fourteen undergraduate students from various backgrounds in iGEM University of Indonesia (UI) 2018 team, are collaborating in attempt to overcome these problems. We plan to develop an alternative method for detecting diphtheria toxin by integrating native Escherichia coli chemotaxis system with heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor (HB-EGF) receptor and fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) system, comprising of LuxAB and enhanced yellow fluorescence protein (eYFP). Furthermore, we plan to raise awareness regarding diphtheria and vaccination among people around us by means of charities and social works. For further information about our project, human practices, collaboration with other iGEM teams, and many others, feel free to navigate our Wiki pages.