Team:SDSZ China/cf

iGem SDSZ_China 2018

Integrated Human Practice Timeline

1. Visit a fishing village.

- See the process of catching lobsters and get to know
the treatment with lobster shells.
-Impact: realized that most of the lobster shells were abandoned and were not put into industrial production.

2. Visit a factory that produces food with lobsters.

- Investigate how much lobster shells can be left after the rounds of production.
- Impact: more than 50% of the shells are left unused after the production. we confirmed that our project is applicable in reality for the useful resources of lobster shells (raw material) from different sources.

3. Visit pharmaceutical company in Xi’an

- Gain a more complete view of the chemical production of chitosan & the problems of the current treatment & interview the staffs, ask their opinions about our design.
- Impact: realized the deficiencies in chemical production (water pollution, energy cost, high demand of laborers, low efficiency)

4. Visit Biotechnology company in Suzhou

- To ask for feedback and instructions on solving a problem we encountered in the experiment.
- Impact: Introduced us with a new plasmid and QS system. Gave us instructions and suggestions on the conduction our experiment.

5. Second visit to the Biotechnology company

- Demo test to potential users & gain feedback from them
- Impact: We received positive comments and data from the users and gained inspiration to modify our machine according to realistic production.

6. After iGEM

- We are planning to revisit the company to show them our modified version of the machine, make further adjustments and put our machine into use in industry.

Integrated human practice overview

- Professor
As a group of high school students, our understanding of genetic engineering is limited. In addition to the usual self-turning of books to learn knowledge, many professors have helped us to carry out the design of the experiment smoothly. One of them is Professor Wang Wenhang of the School of Food Engineering and Biotechnology at Tianjin University of Science and Technology.

Before the construction of our subject, we got in touch with the professer by using the resources of one of our team members’ parents. After Professor Wang heard about our project, he was very willing to help us because Professor Wang had done research in this area before. He believed that chitosan is a promising new material. After reading our initial experimental ideas, he gave us valuable advice. There is a region between the ribosome binding site and the promoter called scar, but the design of our previous experiment made this region too long. In order to make the protein be successfully expressed, the scar should not exceed 6 bp. In the end, the protein was successfully expressed, which is inseparable from the professor's credit.

Work experience and performance: 2003.6-present, teaching and research work at the School of Food Engineering and Biotechnology, Tianjin University of Science and Technology. He teaches undergraduate courses "General Biology", postgraduate courses "Functional Food Technology and Equipment", "Food Science and Biotechnology Special Lecture" and other courses, and trains more than 20 postgraduate students. In recent years, he has hosted and participated in dozens of national, provincial (ministerial) projects, and has carried out international cooperation with Canada and the United States. Published more than 30 academic papers, including more than ten papers in SCI.

- Xi’an Pharmaceutical Factory:
While designing our project, we have learnt that the current production method of chitosan has some limitations. In order to gain more knowledge about the setbacks and how are they influencing the industrial supplies of chitosan, we put visiting these institutions up on our schedule.

One of our destinations is the Sciphar Organic Products corporation located in Xi’an. We learnt that they used to produce chitosan and healthcare products that contain the chemical, and reached out for them in hope of visiting their factory, where we can have a better understanding of how chitosan is produced. Yet in the first response we received, the company showed their concern—They have already closed up their chitosan production line. This, however triggered our interest: Why did they closed it up? Sensing that the reasons behind the company’s decision could also give us inspiration on our project, we decided to visit anyway.

At the company, we asked why the company had shut down the chitosan production line in addition to the technical questions we have prepared. The manager sighed at this: “You would be disappointed…it was profitable, indeed, we used chitosan to produce all kinds of products from drugs to cosmetics. But there were too many risks.” He explained to us that the current industrial production method—using concentrated hydrogen chloride and sodium hydroxide—imposes a lot of danger on the factory workers operating the machine. Moreover, the industrial wastes that comes with the production was too much for them to treat.

Despite that it differs from what we have expected initially, we have benefited a lot from this trip. We have identified safety and sustainability as two issues we should address with our design. Treating crystalized chitin with enzymes produces little side product but some harmless organic acetic salts. By incorporating our system into a machine that monitors the fermentation process automatically, we have also minimized casualty potentials.

- Primary School
Influence of Primary School Experience on our Experiments

When we gave the lecture in the Beijing 2nd primary school, the kids there left us deep impression. They were so eager to learn more about what we introduced. For most of them, it may be the first time for them to learn synthetic biology. Even if some concepts for them may be hard to understand, their curiosity to the beautiful natural world, their passions to synthetic biology, and their dreams to their promising future impressed us a lot. As the presenters for the lecture, this experience made the reminiscence of our childhood, when we were curious to the biology. We were eager to utilize the microscopes, to observe the behaviors of different insects, and to combine different chemical reactants. We have found that, it is the long-term interest and pursue of biology that tied us together: we are a group with same biology dream. As a result, every time we discussed our research design together, an invisible tie connected us: we were better to collaborate. When we were facing some difficulties, we were more likely to get through, because this was the opportunities for us to realize our dream since childhood. We were inspired to enhance our project.

In addition, during the presentation, we have found that many students were unfamiliar with synthetic biology. For instance, few of them understood the concept of “enzyme”; in fact, few of them even know the Chinese character “enzyme.” Therefore, we tried different approaches to address our project, in order to make it more accessible and understandable. We used several models of crabs and shrimps to arouse their interest. We explained that enzyme is a kind of substance that can make chemical reaction more effective, for instance, in our bodies. We came up with real-world sceneries to express the obscure concepts of synthetic biology. We emphasized the real-world issues that synthetic biology would be able to solve, rather than in a theoretic level. We therefore improved our education, better expressing our ideas and passions to ordinary people in an accessible and interesting way.

- Suzhou The trip to Suzhou visiting a international company- Symbiotechnology helped the practice of our project a lot. In an emerging high-tech industrial park, the staff led us to visit their professional labs and invited us to give a presentation on our project in a conference room and communicate with their researchers. This exchange brings valuable experience to our projects and clarifies the goals we pursue in our experiments.

First, after listening to the initial ideas of our research, some experts helped us to exclude eight genes we were going to explore based on the projects they had studied. Some genes are excluded because they are too rare for large-scale production or low productivity. This saves us a lot of researching time. Second, experts have highlighted the importance of conversion efficiency because the productivity of today's mainstream solutions is not high, but it is not low, so our solution must not only focus on the impact on the environment, higher conversion rate is also very important.

Although it took a few days to finish, we have gained a lot of important information, which is definitely helpful for our follow-up experimental design. >
- Shenzhen

“No one should fight alone.” Having this faith in mind, we signed up the Eurasian Meetup in Shenzhen from July 24 to July 26 in order to know more about other iGEM teams both from undergraduate track and high school track. The three days there benefited us a lot in the practice and further modify of our experiments. We met the highly experienced teams from Asia and Europe. We learned about their projects and their way of dealing with problems during the experiment. One of them from a university in China gave constructional advice to the way we collect data. He mentioned that their way, which uses a special software, is extraordinarily effective for the data collecting and is very easy for making graphs to show the trends and results visually.

We are specifically improved in the aspects we see biosafety and bioethics. We understand that biosafety isn’t only about the safe chemicals we used when conducting the experiment, it is also about preventing any possible damage to us or the environment. After coming back from the meet up, we checked our process thoroughly to make sure that our product will be safe.

During the workshop and lectures there, we also got to know more about the skills of doing presentation and making posters. “Sharing ideas with a group of people who are doing different kinds of projects to serve for the common good of human beings feel great!” Rebecca and Helen said after coming back with lots of valuable advice.