Welcome to Cornell's premier synthetic biology project team.
This year, Cornell iGEM has developed a cancer bacteriotherapy system housed within engineered E. coli cells. Paired with a patient's main treatment, our system aims to identify the physical location of breast cancer metastases and increase tumor cell elimination capabilities. The genome of our genetically engineered bacteria contains a holin/anti-holin kill switch that allows the bacteria to survive and reproduce in high lactate tumor environments characteristic of cancerous regions, while forcing them to commit apoptosis in low level lactate concentrations. This ensures that our bacteria are only active in tumor cells and not in healthy human tissue. Our bacteria have also been engineered to express mCardinal red fluorescent protein, creating a red glow through the skin that can be detected by our fluorescent reader device. This allows for the precise detection of tumor metastases. To effectively supplement the patient's main cancer treatment, the bacteria have been designed to release trichosanthin, a cancer therapeutic protein that is a variation of the ricin toxin, which kills tumor cells by deactivating their ribosomal function.
Cornell iGEM's goals for the 2020 season have shifted rapidly as the global situation involving COVID-19 has continued developing. Our initial direction was to complete an iGEM project as we do normally, aiming for gold medal classification when we compete at the 2020 Giant Jamboree. However, due to the impact of COVID-19, we are largely unable to perform work in-person and accordingly we are most likely unable to create a physical product for the 2020 season. While this is unfortunate, the situation at hand has allowed for much personal growth amongst team members and leaders.
Without lab work as a requirement for competition this year, teams are being judged largely on factors related to modeling, business plans, proof-of-concept, etc. Essentially, the hypotheticals and designs of the original product. Cornell iGEM members have acquired new skillsets as a result of this, being required to apply themselves outside of their comfort zone to learn about previously unfamiliar disciplines. Teaching iGEM students the skills necessary to assemble this new type of project is at the forefront of our team goals this year.
Our goals for the 2020 season have shifted from an output and results-based approach to an approach centered around personal growth, flexibility, and accountability. Through conducting our meetings and operations virtually, each team member has improved their communication skills and developed a better sense of accountability, since there is less strict direction from the leads in a remote work environment. Though COVID-19 strongly impacted the workflow of our team, we are still working hard to ensure that every team member leaves having learned something valuable.
- Lucas Evans, Team Lead
Novel drug delivery system and probiotic treatment for Bacterial Coldwater Disease and app for monitoring nutrient content in fish hatcheriesAchievements
Help make our synbio ideas become reality! Any amount will go towards purchasing much-needed supplies for our current project. Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, Cornell iGEM is able to make meaningful advances and discoveries every year.