Team:Pasteur Paris/Awards



Integrated Human Practices

We feel we have learned a lot during this iGEM competition, and what we have learned has completely changed our first idea of NeuronArch. This progression was allowed thanks to the many professionals that we encountered, working in microfluidics or on biofilms. Our project is focused on disability, therefore we also contacted associations of amputees to learn about their lives, their struggles with their prostheses and what could be improved. We didn’t just imagine it. We also talked to surgeons about the best ways possible to integrate the engineered biofilm inside the patient’s body without getting in the way of the surgical procedures, hence our final prototype. Because we went out of our way to really improve NeuronArch not only on the scientific aspect but also on the pragmatic aspects for doctors and patients, we feel our project has perfectly embodied this facet of Human Practices.

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Education & Public Engagement

Most iGEM teams will engage the public on the topic of synthetic biology to kids or high school students. We pushed this topic a bit further. In addition to the traditional events at schools and fairs, because we are focusing on helping the quality of life of amputees, we also raised awareness toward physical disabilities. Furthermore, we tried our best not to only target the general public, but also the scientific community at large. We contacted hospitals to talk about the future of NeuronArch with actual surgeons, and on how synthetic biology could improve their jobs and the lives of their patients. Because our project is also dealing with chemistry and physics, with the construction and measurements done on our microfluidic chips, we also went to the 14th International Conference on Organic Electronics, to talk with experts on how their field of study could improve our biology subject.

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Prostheses can be improved by two major sets of parameters that we modeled. The first aspect of our model aims at modeling the impact of our bacteria on nerve growth. We succeeded in calculating the number of neurotrophins our bacteria produced over time and how they diffused in the media. Subsequently, we modeled neuron growth rate based on those various parameters.
The optimized parameters have been communicated to the wet lab to boost the nerve growth in our device.
For the second part, we modeled human bones using parameter sets from A humerus bone attached to a prosthesis was modeled using SpaceClaim. In order to find the configuration of the least constraints on the humerus, static mechanical forces were studied. It was of great use to design the metallic stem inserted in the bone.

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We envisioned NeuronArch not only as an iGEM project but also as a real start-up company. It is not limited to only the financial plan or a roadmap, what is conventionally done. We tried to understand our target market by doing a full study, including our possible competition and possible partnerships, such as I-CERAM an implant manufacturer that is very interested in future collaborations. The business plan is based on real Pasteur Paris iGEM data. Our prototype and its components have been developed with careful thought, in order to produce it at the largest scale, easily used and maintained, and at the lowest cost possible. We gave NeuronArch a strong identity, and pitched it on to investors gathering more than 22 500 USD in money as well as 10 000 USD in lab material, proving that NeuronArch is a project to invest in.

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Product Design

Conscious that synthetic biology is a way to answer global and daily issues for people, we decided to finalize NeuronArch’s biological part by creating a global system. A product design approach makes NeuronArch a tangible solution for amputees.
We propose a biological solution at the heart of our device that gives amputees the benefit of a bionic prosthesis. Our system includes an implanted stem featuring our engineered biofilm. It has an interface device to collect and process the signal from nerves while connecting the future prosthesis. In addition, it can protect from pathogenic biofilms. A charging station and an app are also part of our setup.
We designed a global proposal, thinking of dimensions, materials, and fabrication processes, always taking into consideration the industrial and medical feasibility and the user’s comfort. We believe NeuronArch can improve the amputee’s life by offering an innovative interface designed by our team’s designers and integrating all the biological and technical parts.

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