Team:Tufts/Human Practices

Human Practices

We generated a discourse in summer program for young students about responsible use of synthetic biology. This improved understanding of synthetic biology will allow them to respond more rationally to its effects in their daily lives, whether as policymakers, scientists, or citizens.

Aside from that, we considered how our research would impact the world, if it ever made its way into a diagnostic tool. Since miRNA's are difficult to detect, but could predict many diseases, a miRNA detecting blood test may be able to help many people with faster, easier diagnosis.

Potential Advantages

Less-invasive - the blood test might be able to diagnose diseases like breast cancer without a biopsy. This may encourage patients to get earlier diagnosis, or get tested more often. There is also potential to use non-invasive urine tests as well [1].

Easier/now-possible Diagnosis - since miRNA's predict many diseases, diagnosis of previously difficult to diagnose diseases and conditions may now be easier, or possible where they were previously impossible, such as hairline micro-fractures of bones.

Potential Disadvantages

Cost - since in-vitro translation is required for the diagnosis tool, the final diagnosis kits might be expensive to produce.

Shelf-Stability - Since in-vitro translation is required for the diagnosis tool, many of the components of the diagnosis kit are RNA based or enzyme based. This greatly decreases the shelf stability of the diagnosis kit, especially in wet conditions. This could limit the worldwide impact of our product, especially in regions with less infrastructure.

False-positives - Since many possibilities of correlations between miRNA's and diseases/conditions are not well explored, our diagnosis kit may result in false positives.


1. Du, L., Jiang, X., Duan, W., Wang, R., Wang, lishui, Zheng, G., … Wang, C. (2017). Cell-free microRNA expression signatures in urine serve as novel noninvasive biomarkers for diagnosis and recurrence prediction of bladder cancer. Oncotarget, 8(25), 40832–40842.