Team:Saint Joseph/Description

Why We Chose This

Think of our antibiotics war as an arms race. First, came the primary generation of antibiotics along the line of penicillin and the alike. Subsequently, bacteria evolved an antibiotics resistance to these drugs. Somewhere in between, we invented even more potent medicine with even greater antimicrobial properties. As the conflict went on, the first super-bugs, a.k.a. super-hard-to-kill bacteria emerged. Some people who read WHO articles for a pastime would know that WHO has labelled some antimicrobial chemicals to be too crucial. Let me translate this to a much more concrete tone: if these antibiotics were misused as often as most antibiotics are today, pathogens adapting to these newly introduced antibiotics, in turn, would crumble our last drug-wise line of defense against microbes, bringing about a future fraught with global pandemics of unprecedented infectivity. But that’s enough apocalyptic postulation for today. To sum it up, if we keep on using any antibiotics we may come across the way we’re currently used to do, bacteria will adapt to them in short notice and leave us with no valid antibodies to use against them on future treatment of diseases. Simply put, using drugs willy nilly everywhere is a no-go.
We’d like to dissuade everyone from unbridled drug use, but that’s not the point of IGEM, is it? So we looked far and wide, searched far and low and found a decently amenable solution to this, and as most instances of irony would have it be, it was right before our very own naked eyes all long. It just wasn’t so easily visible to the naked eye, that’s all.

Why Phages

What we’re presenting to you here is nature’s very own bacteria-killing seasoned veteran corps, and they can keep up with bacterial adaptation by becoming whatever the situation at hand may call for. They are, albeit tiny, vicious and prepared. They are bacteriophages and here’s what they bring to the table:
-Unlike conventional antibiotics, they can never become obsolete, in fact, they are too genetically diverse to become obsolete when it comes to butchering bacteria.
-They are target-centric, and hence why we haven’t become sick even though there are millions of phages inside us; they only have eyes for their target bacteria and would never make people sick (despite the common phobia surrounding them).
-They are for the most part completely natural, as a consequence, not much genetic engineering will be required for future use.
-They have more experience in doing this than us, even if there may be no merit to converting to complete phage-based treatment, we will still be able to put their evolutionary potential to great use.

Seems almost like a miracle-cure, and yes, it partially is, however there are some obstacles preventing broad use. First and foremost, phages can not even enter other cells besides their bacterial ‘’prey’’, making it impossible for them to even interact with the bulk of infectious bacteria. Secondly, phage treatment has been abandoned in favor of antibiotic treatment in most western countries, however it has resurfaced recently as a scientific topic.

Even though phage treatment is uncharted scientific territory; we think that such difficulties are meant to be overcome, not to be demoralized by! We, as a team, see promising potential in phage related research and as a means to blaze a trail, have decided to test the viability of phage treatment in sanitizing... well, fish farms. And just like how all great things began, we have to start on a frustratingly small scale: by testing one individual species of phage’s efficiency on a singular species of bacteria.

Despite the experiment being the equivalent of putting a hamster in a cage together with a poison dart frog (surprise, the hamster gets poisoned and passes away miserably, except the fact that it was a bacteria getting torn apart by rampant lytic phages), there’s more to it this time around (In the usual tragic fashion things go down, bacteria always get the short straw; at least there isn’t a committee advocating pro-bacteria movement). We’re also using antimicrobial peptides(AMPs) for fire support. In this way, we’ll be testing the efficiency of our unique recipe which complements the precision of phages with the force of AMPs for a Dynamic Duo.

Saint Joseph 2018 ©