This year the Imperial College iGEM Team aims to develop a genetically-engineered Biofabricator, using the Gram-positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis. Our Biofabricator aims to produce self-assembling biomaterials in specified 3D shapes, using light as the trigger. This is achieved in three stages. First using 3D holography and by utilising an endogenous light-sensing mechanism, the bacteria is captured in the desired location. Next bacterial locomotion is suspended in the region of interest using a recently-discovered clutch mechanism. This involves disengaging the flagellum from the motor protein. Finally, when our bacteria are stationary in the correct location, the biomaterial production is triggered. These biomaterials can self-assemble to form a 3D bio-scaffold. Applications range from regenerative tissue engineering to Bio-Couture.
Bacteria will sense that light and start to produce a clutch molecule. The clutch disengages the flagella from the motor quite quickly, rendering the subtilis stationary. Coupled with the clutch is a gene for expression for biomaterial synthesis. Should any individuals stray from the correct area, the clutch should disengage and material synthesis should stop.
We hope to build up our bio-scaffold material pixel by pixel in the defined area - the basis of our 3D biofabrication process.
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