Engineering Success

The engineering process was long, spanning multiple phases; in addition, we also had to adapt to an ever-changing set of conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic - all communication took place through online media, and, given how international our team is, scheduling meetings has been difficult due to time zone differences. Nonetheless, we are happy to say that our project was a partial success, all conditions considered.

Initial project ideas

How can we help?

We conducted an extensive search for problems we could solve in both our local area, as well on a global level. What caught our attention was the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic upon cancer screening, particularly colorectal cancer, as well as a novel idea for detection...

In-depth research

Know thy enemy

After deciding on creating a colibactin biosensor, we found that the substance is way too reactive to detect - with help from our Chemistry department, we decided on trying to detect a byproduct - N-myristoyl-D-asparagine. The large size of this molecule meant that we had to plan a two-step approach, however...

Dry lab: part 1

Laying the foundations

The first phase of our design process involved designing an N-acetyl-D-asparagine biosensor, which, due to our lack of wet lab access, had to be done completely in silico. The apparent success of the initial design procedure allowed us to move on to the second phase of our project...

Contacting specialists

Seeking sage advice

Our attempts to contact real-world specialists in bowel cancer screening have born fruit, as we were able to interview a number of professionals who were able to give us feedback on our idea. Even better, they told us of how the system currently works - and where it could use some more work...

Dry lab: part 2

An early grave?

We attempted to use the N-acetyl-D-asparagine biosensor as a design template for our final product: the N-myristoyl-D-asparagine biosensor. However, we had overestimated the power of the computational tools at our disposal...

Outreach effort - conclusions

Integrating new ideas

The professionals we had the privilege of interviewing had expanded our perspective on how our kit could fit into the screening system, as well as ideas on how it could interact with newly emerging, very exciting components...

Dry lab - change of plans

A different approach

The information we gathered, as well as the results which we had obtained thus far led us to carry out the docking and design procedures with N-butyryl-D-asparagine, in order to accommodate as large a molecule as possible...

Wet lab experiment plans

What could not be done

Under normal circumstances, our dry lab work would have been complemented by wet lab work, like many other iGEM projects. This year, however, matters are different, but that has not prevented us from planning out what we would have done...

Future work?

Hope for the future

As our project neared its close, it became apparent that our work need not be in vain. Despite our failure in creating the biosensor, we laid the groundwork for a future team to complete what we set out to do, using the tools of the future - directed evolution being chief among them.


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wellcome trust
Science Facutly Grant
School of Life Sciences
IDT Sponsor
EPSRC Sponsor
Warwick Global Research
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