Several months ago, we set out on a mission to realize a living material. In our design page, we defined our major requirements and preferences. We have spent several months perfecting the parts of our living device to meet those requirements. But did we manage to produce a viable living material?
A viable gel platform
We originally aimed to create a living material that would be modular, safe and viable. As our results have demonstrated, our adhesin-hydrogel platform successfully reduced bacterial leakage when comparing with traditional E. Coli not expressing the adhesin. We also succeeded in making our hydrogel from pharmaceutical grade dextran, and we also have shown that bacteria can thrive in the gel for prolonged periods .
Our hydrogel-adhesin platform is quite modular. Through our own experiments and through a collaboration with another team we have proved our gel is stable for a prolonged period in a wide variety of conditions. To use this system, one must only follow our protocol to produce a gel in a desired shape and dimensions and then co-transform the desired genes with our adhesin. One could even use our models to calibrate their gel dimensions and bacterial load.
Bringing our living material to a real application: adressing the chronic wound infection
Informed by our integrated human practices , we decided to create a case-study application where such a system might make a real impact if brought to fruition. In our applied design page, we detail how we went about designing a prototype for chronic wounds and focused on lysostaphin expression and secretion as requirements for such a patch. Through our collaboration with PAMM we tested our lysostaphin secretion on multi-resistant bacteria, demonstrating effectivity and selectivity. While the use of such a device in the real world is not yet in sight, not least due to legal and procedural requirements regarding medical devices, the foundation for such a system is now available: A bacterial retention system that would be relatively straightforward to couple with lysostaphin secretion. We even designed and produced the DNA necessary to express and secrete a second bacteriocin, based on important feedback from experts and stakeholders.
To conclude, we are proud to say we believe we more than sufficiently demonstrated the validity of our solution and it’s potential in both the general case as well as the specific application of wound healing. We would encourage future teams to build on our system to try and solve real-world problems in years to come.