Designing a Hyperstable Antibody with
Cell-penetrating Peptide for Intracellular Targeting
On June 28, we had our first zoom collaboration meeting with the UNILausanne team from Switzerland. Before the meeting, both teams exchanged experiment/project descriptor documents and generated questions to be asked during the session. Although it was our first meeting, team UNILausanne led the discussion as they had prior collaboration experiences. The meeting was mainly focused on the information before the lab since they did not have access to the lab. They gave valuable insight into how their team members communicated as the Covid-19 pandemic significantly affected in-person team meetings - an aspect our team was also having difficulty with. In this stage of the iGEM, we were struggling to reach out to and source teams with similar topics. Team UNILausanne reminded us of using Instagram to connect with other IGEM teams. In terms of Human Practices, they had a unique way to start a blog with another team in Sweden. We asked about our Instagram Project idea, and they told us that another team had a very similar concept. With that advice, we were able to develop the project in a unique way for our team. Overall, the meeting enabled us to start thinking about future collaborations, improving communication, and the need to push through the lab work on time.
On August 22, we had our second meeting. We focused on putting together the wiki and further developing our human practices work. Both teams were at different stages of the project: while our team was almost done with the experiment, the other team had recreated the experiment, starting from the cloning stage. Nevertheless, both teams had similar progress on Human Practices, modeling, and wiki. The university team had more modeling experience, so they gave us insight into whether the modeling we were planning on was plausible and fits our project. Given the feedback, our team was assured that modeling was going on the right track. They also shared their extended human practices, such as the GMO survey and education video created for gender equality in science. The educational video idea inspired us with our own Human Practices, which was the educational video creation focused on spreading awareness on cancer.
On July 5, 2020, we held a virtual Zoom meeting with the DTU-Denmark team. Since we had only finished our lab's first session, the meeting was mainly about medal criterias, fundings, and future plannings. Both sides introduced their experiments but only covered the purpose and the process in general. Regarding Human Practices, they had innovative ideas. For example, they were planning to publish a croquet instruction of their logo. We learned that Human Practices' projects do not always have to be "scientific," but it can be developed in several fields. Also, we asked for advice regarding our Instagram project. Overall, the meeting was very constructive: the Gold medal criteria were clarified, and improvements were made.
On August 2, we had our second zoom meeting. This time, we were able to ask more experiment-related questions since we were almost completed with our lab. Based on our lab results, we received suggestions and tips regarding our Mathematical Modeling and Homology Modeling. Specifically, they informed us of MathWorks, a commonly used software for Mathematical Modeling.
In our third zoom meeting, DTU-Denmark team shared their current wiki progress with us with picture examples. The team has also offered help on providing feedback on draft sections of our wiki page. Due to the great advice from the DTU-Denmark team, we could resolve questions regarding criteria, modeling, and design. We greatly appreciate the help they have provided this year, and we are looking forward to additional collaborations next year!
On July 12, we had our first zoom meeting with Queen's University team. After introducing our team and our experiment, we listened to their introduction. Following the introductions, the Queen's University team provided us with recommendations on how to improve our experiment. For example, they suggested we use a GFP (fluorescent protein) tagged instead as the protein-membrane makes it challenging to express the protein. We can compare the RAS + GFP and RAS without GFP to see the drop in intensity. Moreover, we asked general questions about the process of the iGEM competition. Our questions mainly focused on what we can do for outreach and collaboration. For outreach, they recommended us to provide education to other students through making educational videos. Their experience in making videos was valuable information for our human wiki team as we needed creative ideas for outreach activities suited for the Covid-19 situation. For collaboration, they asked us to join their biosensor collaboration project. In response, we also asked them to join our Instagram collaboration project, and we have mutually agreed to join each others' projects. Because their project also experimented with proteins (fluorescent), they provided us with tips and guidelines in experimenting with our protein.
On August 9, we had our second zoom meeting with Queen's University team. The meeting started with check-ins with our testings. We answered that we have three assays:cell-penetrating assays, RAS signaling assay, binding assay. For the binding assay, Queen's University recommended that we use a Surface Plasmon Resonance technique, which can be acquired in a university lab. Using the method, we can observe the change in binding angle once we add RAS. Furthermore, they recommended using a cell proliferation assay related to the colony size as our goal is to stop cell growth. These advice on the different assays were valuable information in brainstorming different ways to do our testing and finding topics to research on more.
Imperial College London
The collaboration with the Imperial College London team happened throughout two meetings on July 18 and August 15. The Imperial College London team reached out to us through email, seeking high school students to help and support the development of an introduction to mathematical modeling package. The interaction developed into a full collaboration where we gave feedback on their mathematical modeling package while offering suggestions on our project's modeling possibilities.
Because the collaboration took place at an earlier stage of the iGEM journey, we did not have a clear idea of what and how the modeling part of our project would look. Therefore, the Imperial College Team's suggestions, such as using mathematical modeling to find the optimal concentration of the scFv(Ras) antibody, deepened our understanding of modeling and provided us with ideas of what we can work on. In the second meeting, they gave us suggestions on the approach we may take in doing the homology modeling, such as doing the homology modeling on both original-Ras and the mutated one to compare the results. Through the collaboration with the Imperial College London team, we successfully chose the approach to take in modeling the antibody and antigen while also benefiting from the many encouragement and words of advice from an experienced team!
On July 19, our team held a zoom meeting with the NJU China team. We started off our discussion by discussing our projects and asking questions regarding the topics, such as the inspiration behind the experiment's project and real-life applications. We talked about how patients with COVID-19 in China could not be treated and passed away and how their project was linked with Mr. Krusty Krabs from Spongebob. The NJU China team also proceeded to help us with the technical/experimental part of the project, as they had past experience with lab related things. In our second meeting, held on September 25 we discussed our wet lab outcomes and how both teams were preceding onto finalizing the project by organizing information onto the Wiki. Furthermore, our team was able to clarify some points of the Wiki guidelines that NJU China had difficulty understanding. The NJU China team also suggested the integration of the use of our antibody and another type of antibody that will boost its effectiveness for future applications. Our team gained a lot from the NJU China team and grasped a better understanding of iGEM, on top of creating a strong connection with them.
We hosted a Korean Meetup joined by Korea-SIS, KSA_KOREA, and the South Korean Ambassadors Roy and Varsha joined the meeting. The offline meeting was about two hours in duration. Each team prepared slides to exchange specific information about their project, share current progress, and challenges teams have endured during the process. The South Korean Ambassadors joined us through zoom and gave valuable feedback about our presentation and how we could improve to achieve the highest level possible after presenting our research, lab progress, human practice, and collaboration. Then, Korea-SIS presented their project about creating a biosensor that reduces post-harvest losses during grain storage. Followed by Korea-SIS, KSA_KOREA presented their project on creating high quality/eco-friendly paper through genetically engineered bacteria and yeast. Because all three teams had surprisingly different topics with very diverse ideas and approaches to the project, it was an excellent opportunity to see different perspectives and provide feedback on each other's topics. After presentations, the teams gathered to hear the feedback given by the South Korean Ambassadors. They gave general comments that applied to all groups while also providing specific feedback for each team. The ambassadors' overarching feedback was to specifically indicate and plan a delivery system for each product of our projects. Our team's specific advice was to think about some practical ways our antibody may be applied or injected into a person.
On August 1st, 2020, our team attended a mentorship session with Saniya Crouch. We were selected for the iGEM Mentorship Program session and were paired with Saniya. She participated in iGEM 2019, as the team leader of Nottingham iGEM. Prior to the meeting, our team prepared questions for Saniya, and she went through them, answering the questions and giving us suggestions. One of the suggestions she had for our team was to improve communication between our sub-teams by creating presentations. For example, the Human Practice team would create a presentation to update the entire team on what they have accomplished so far. We had been following her suggestions after the mentorship program, and it allowed more active communication between team members.
Our team worked on a quarantined theme Instagram project for the collaboration project. Our project's objective was to create a sense of community in pandemic by providing a space in which the iGEM participants can easily learn about and contact other teams. To participate, the teams had to send us a group photo of their team with a description, including the team name, an introduction paragraph, a description of the experiment, and the contact information. Then, we posted them on our Instagram page after editing. The postings were edited into different colors by each continent.
SDG Project by Team UPCH_Peru
Team UPCH_Peru established an excellent collaboration project this year regarding the SDGs provided by the United Nations. We chose 3 SDGs with specific target goals. Our target goals were added into the slides with a description of our project and how it achieves the specific target. This reminded our ultimate goal and allowed us to view and understand other teams’ goals easily. Overall, it was a great experience to gather many projects together under a united goal, to provide a better life and spread happiness around the world.