Team:SMS Shenzhen/Human Practices



Interview with expert scientist

During our experiment, we encountered several difficulties. We found that, after conducting the same protocol of our referred articles, the minute amount of L-dopa production is too small to be detected. After several resultless attemptions, we decided to turn to an expert, Dr. Wei, who is currently the professor of South China Agricultural University. Dr. Wei is an expert in the field of microorganism-related L- dopa production, and he has once written an article about the synthetic mechanism of L-dopa production within the E.coli.



On September 14th, two of our team members, along with our advisor Kun Zhang, met Dr. Wei online. After one and a half of hour of conversing, we receive many constructive advice and many edifying inspirations:


(i) our project is reasonable and achievable.

(ii) Due to oxidation, L-dopa would turn brown when being exposed to periodate ions. Thus by constructing HpaBC plasmid and cultivating the bacteria we can determine whether L-dopa is produced. If the solution turns brown, we can say that L-dopa exist in our solution.

(iii) Since the team of Dr. Wei has fermented the E.coli for more than 24 hours, It is possible that the low concentration of L-dopa is caused by our short time of fermentation (maximum 12h). Besides, according to Dr. Wei, the flask is supposed to turn to conspicuously dark brown, and the phenomenon would be easy to observe.

(iv) Dr. Wei suggests us to use test tubes to ferment instead of 50mL container, since test tubes can solve more oxygen in them and will thus be more suitable for bacteria’s cultivation.

(v) Dr. Wei suggests that our project has a creative and interesting standing point and expresses his optimistic expectation towards the success of our program.

(vi) Dr. Wei states that, we need to determine the acceptable concentration of L-dopa and E.coli in human intestine first, before we consider the possibility of implanting hardware systems. Dr. Wei also provides us with a new idea: patients can drink our designed E.coli instead of receiving surgery, because ingesting the E.coli solution would be harmless.

(vii) lights will not affect the productivity of fermentation, so we can neglect the small influences that daylight could bring to our project.


Dr. Wei provides us with plenty of practical suggestions. We then applied these advice into our experience, and we observe, with glad, that the solution of L-Dopa turns brown after the addition of sodium periodate. Finally, our genetically edited E.coli starts producing L-dopa.



Integrated Human Practices


Interview with doctors-Background

On the afternoon of Sept 24th, four of our teammates headed to the 2nd People's Hospital of Shenzhen for an important interview that had been planned for days. Around 5 p.m., we arrived the inpatient apartment of the hospital. Dr. Huang, our interviewee, is an expert in the field of intestinal diseases and operations. She has worked in the endocrinology department for more than ten years. Besides, due to the special department and environment she is working in, she knows many patients with PD.


Dr. Huang passionately invited us to a meeting room where our interview was settled. We described the outline and details of SKIP and then started our interview.


During the interview, we asked several questions that were deliberately designed in advance. The questions were highly related to our project, which were mainly about the accessibility of our design. After the interview, we summarized the interview and did some modification based on these opinions; the summary are presented below.



Interview with doctors-Interview


First, our engineered bacteria cannot colonize long in intestinal tract because they may be outweighed by other bacteria or excreted. An effective solution is to put the bacteria into capsule, so that, living under a relatively stable circumstance, the bacteria will prosper longer.


Second, whether the production of levodopa in human’s intestinal tract is effective needs to be determined. Levodopa may cause side-effects on other parts of our body, like increasing heart rate or respiration rate. Besides, since now the mechanism of Parkinson’s disease is still not understood on a comprehensive level, we can as well try other passageways or methods; however, the doctor offered great approval towards our project as well, saying that it was really a practical and advanced brand-new method.


Third, though it is accessible to plant our capsule into intestinal tract, the harm may outweigh the benefits. We have to consider the battery capacity and the harm of operation. If the capsule is metallically hard, it can cause problems like ulceration and perforation of organs.




Interview with doctors-Reflection

After the interview, our teammate did some reflections. Despite the hardware part that you can see on our HARDWARE page, the most important part is that we know about doctor’s views of Parkinson’s disease. We as well learn more about the lives of those patients with PD. Though this is just a small interview, the case that the doctor tells us deeply touches our hearts.


It is true that, aside from the physical inconvenience, patients may also be depressed by their powerlessness. Therefore, regular mental care is also required. Patients need more care from society as well, and the thought is one reason among many that drive us to more delicately design our Human Practice. Currently, PD community quite unnoticed, though its current situation is harsh and heartbreaking. Big hospitals have experts of neurology to diagnose and give lectures on how to prevent the disease, but corresponding mental care may still need more improvements.


interview with PD Community

Having the will to practically get contact with PD community, not merely working on the surface, we tried to reach a relative of one PD patient and ask him questions about the real situation that PD community is facing and his expectation towards the future. The move is derived not only for our project, but also for the entire PD community. We did our interview online through WeChat due to the distances and the COVID-19. This video is the translated version of the interview’s entire record.

As it is mentioned in the interview, Mr. Ge thinks that it is of great necessity and significance to do more about PD patients’ mental health, in accordance with what the doctor has told us. Moreover, he appreciated that we tried to do PD community the best favor. Through the interview, we got a deeper and more realistic touch of PD community, and we believed that all the projects we have done would make a difference.


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