SynBio can be very complex due to the expertise required and the economic cost of the labs. This is why the Valencia UPV team has set a goal: to solve all these difficulties in order to bring Synthetic Biology closer to people.
We intend to design a fully-equipped bioengineering device: Printeria. It will be capable of modifying bacteria to obtain tangible phenotypes, but made as easy to operate as a home printer. In short, a whole cloning process contained in a single device.
How to use it
We have created an intuitive software that will help us design a new transcriptional unit and control the experimental conditions of the assembly reaction. It will show us all our previous jobs and pre-designed recipes and, if needed, it will also simulate the experiment before printing it by using the python modeling script. Eventually, it will report us whenever our inventory runs out of parts too.
Afterwards, the hardware is in charge of carrying out the assemblies. It is divided in three different parts: entry zone, PCB and output zone. In the first one, Printeria’s ink can be found: a set of DNA parts standardized to be assembled using the Golden Gate technology that make up our part collection. These parts are deposited in the shape of droplets in a PCB where the reaction will take place.
Once we have the genetic material on the PCB, the little droplets are moved over its surface thanks to electrowetting physical effect. In order to carry on the reaction we need the droplets to change their temperature cyclically thanks to two separate zones with different temperatures. Once the the assembly is complete, the reaction is transported to the electroporator. There they suffer a great discharge which achieves to introduce plasmids in bacteria. Following the microfluidic tubes, the little droplets with bacteria end their way in three 14ml tubes. These tubes have a vital media for the survival of bacteria, furthermore they are continually shaking to improve bacterial growing. Finally in these tubes, Printeria is capable of taking measures which inform us about how much bacteria is growing and how much protein they are synthesizing.
Printeria and society
The objective of science is to solve social problems, therefore it is impossible to develop a product without taking into account the users to whom it will be addressed. The main users are the artists who work with living matter, the bioartists. With Printeria, they eliminate the dependency factor of laboratories and professionals since they can make their own genetic constructions and insert them into bacteria. Another of the areas to which Printeria is directed is education. With it, the complex technological processes that are explained in the theory can be made known and make this science something more attractive. Finally, Printeria's automation potential makes it an essential instrument for synthetic biology laboratories.