Designing a Hyperstable Antibody with
Cell-penetrating Peptide for Intracellular Targeting
- Medal Criteria
The Korea Scholar’s Conference for Youth (KSCY) is a science fair for high school scholars in South Korea initiated by Yonsei University, a prestigious university that runs a youth scholars program. Jina attended the 14th KSCY that took place online and shared our team’s project on the hyperstable-scFv(Ras) as a unique approach for cancer therapy. A presentation about our objective, experiment, results, model, and future was given in a 12-minute presentation. On the interactive scholars' platform, Jina was able to receive valuable comments from professors and other students while extending upon the project and explore the possibility of future implementations on using the antibody for actual use on a patient. Through this experience, the Korea_HS team was able to educate and spread awareness on the potential use of cell-penetrating peptide tagged antibodies.
We created a Google Form in Korean and English to deliver in ten different countries for public engagement. The survey was created to see how familiar synthetic biology is to the public. It was sent out to people in different age groups, countries, and levels of education.
The included questions were
- How old are you?
- How familiar are you with synthetic biology? (rate from 1-5)
- What is your preliminary knowledge of antibodies?
- Have you heard of therapeutic antibodies before?
- How comfortable would you be with using artificial antibodies in medicinal uses in the future?
- Do you think there is a severe side effect when artificial antibodies are used in medical treatment?
Due to our members’ distribution to schools, families, friends, and teachers, we received over 170 responses.
The rough draft of the survey was created in June; however, it was finalized in early October. Many changes had been made during the process, making it into a more straightforward and easily understandable form because it was for all age groups with different education levels. On October 15, the survey was distributed to multiple communities. Luckily, we received over 100 responses just in one day. The survey was accepted for three days, collecting 173 responses.
1) Synthetic biology familiarity: The public was mostly unfamiliar with synthetic biology. Only two responded that they are very familiar. In contrast, 97 people said they do not even know about synthetic biology. This tells us that even though synthetic biology exists everywhere - medicine, everyday products, and agriculture - the public is not aware of the science behind the scene.
2) Antibody familiarity: This year, there was a large jump in the percentage of “Yes” to the “Have you heard of therapeutic antibodies before” compared to last year. In 2019, 48.5% of respondents heard about therapeutic antibodies before. However, over 70% of people heard about therapeutic antibodies this year. One explanation for this drastic change is the spread of SARS-Cov-2. Hundreds of articles are published every day, suggesting that therapeutic antibodies can be a bridge to a vaccine. The interest in antibodies could have risen along with the spread of the virus.
3) Real life usage of Antibodies: Most people said they would be highly comfortable using artificial antibodies in the future. However, not that many respondents believed that severe side effects are not going to exist when it is used as a medical treatment. 69.4% believed that there will be a somewhat side effect. 13.3% said they are not sure, and 4% said they think there will be a severe side effect. In conclusion, even though most people agree that there will be a side effect when artificial antibodies are used for medical purposes, they are still willing to use it for further benefits.
To spread information about our project and increase the background knowledge among our community regarding synthetic biology, we created a pamphlet. The pamphlet contained basic information about therapeutic antibodies and what project we are doing this year. Most of the information was created at an intermediate level because we targeted high school students. Since high school comes right college, where you choose your major, we saw the high possibility of interest in high school choosing the future career. Therefore, we wanted to inform high schoolers about synthetic biology and our project to broaden their spectrums.
Two of our members successfully distributed over 30 pamphlets in their community. On September 29, our member Yeonjo distributed pamphlets to 10th graders who are part of the private institute of Yongin. As people looked through the pamphlet, Yeonjo briefly introduced our team and iGEM, explained our project's goal, and taught them about simple antibody concepts. On October 14, Melissa gave out pamphlets to 9th graders in Seoul International School. She explained the iGEM Competition itself and our team's project, helping students gain insight into synthetic biology. Also, she placed them on a table so people could see them and take one as they walked by.
On September 24, Jonathan gave an informational presentation to a total of 38 eager to learn 10th and 11th grade students attending Harrow International School Hong Kong about iGEM. He also explained about therapeutic antibodies and the significance of our project. Yoonyee created a visually appealing and easy to understand presentation for quick and direct delivery of information, and it was used during the zoom session. During the presentation, Jonathan showed the students the future applications of therapeutic antibodies, what our project is doing to strengthen our defences against cancer, and addressed common misconceptions about therapeutic antibodies.