IGEM:IMPERIAL/2009/Pill Applications

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1) Batteries take a long time to re-charge.

2) Capacitors are unable to give sustained energy release.


Cells accumulate magnetite and are then encapsulated in calcium carbonate. Electromagnetic heating (alternating magnetic field) results in the efficient and near instantaneous heating of the magnetite cores. Since calcium carbonate is an insulator, heat energy would only be slowly released from the system. A possible application for this would be the Bactobottle (hot water bottle made from magnetite filled encapsulated bacteria). Note, the bacteria would obviously be dead. I know this is a magA usage but please consider it carefully. I believe the same principle could have multiple industrial applications. With regards to dosage control, different levels of magnetite accumulation would influence the thermal properties of the resultant system.


magA MagA would also be a cool BioBrick to characterise.



Author James Field


Hair and feathers represent a slowly-degrading waste source.


Keratinase degrades the keratin that makes up these waste products. Perhaps the resultant amino acids produced by keratinase’s action on keratin could be used as an animal feed-stock.





Author James Field


Skin Cancer


We need a neat way of integrating our synthesised product with our encapsulation rational.

Here is an application through which we could create synergies between the two.

1) The topical application of vitamen E (α-tocopherol) reduces UV damage to skin. 2) TiO2 is a ubiquitious component of suncream that reduces UV skin damage.

Therefore we synthesise vitamin E in our chassis and subsequently encapsulate it in a crystal that contains TiO2. For this to be useful, we would expect the capsule to structurally degrade such that vitamin E was released. Structural degradation of the capsule would obvously not prevent TiO2 from providing a protective function.


Biosynthesis Pathway


Very recently (2008) the vitamin E biosynthesis pathway was cloned into E.coli for the first time.


Author James Field




Biosensor. Express antibodies on the surface of bacteria for sensing and bioremediation purposes.
ABSTRACT of interesting paper: A peptidoglycan-associated lipoprotein (PAL) fused to an antibody fragment (scFv) specific to the herbicide and environmental pollutant atrazine, has been successfully targeted to the cell surface of Escherichia coli. Anti-atrazine binding could be observed via an atrazine-alkaline phosphatase conjugate. Cells containing the PAL fusion grew with little cellular toxicity when compared with the control. In contrast, expression of anti-atrazine antibody fragments alone caused the cells to lyse after 4 h. The surface display of anti-pollutant antibodies may have a future role in the bioremediation of contaminated water or the development of pollutant-specific, whole-cell biosensors.

Gene: See the details of from the paper in "Reference", it is old (1999) but we could use this concept to do something more novel. Chassis: e-coli.


Bacterial surface display of antipollutant antibody fragment


Author Nuri Purswani


Common cold. We often catch colds just by touching surfaces and eating without washing our hands. There is no real way of detecting the flu virus outside the body.


A cream to sense for colds on our skin(biosensor). Hemagglutinin (HA) and neuroaminidases are proteins found on surface of the influenza virus. Ideally we could apply our encapsulated bacteria as a "cream" that would contain an outer protein binding to HA. In order to sense for the presence/absence of the influenza virus. If successful at binding to the flu virus, it can change colour and indicate its presence.

  • Good points: It doesn't involve eating anything and bacteria are easily washable and killable with any common spray found in boots.
  • Bad points: Slovenia is developing flu vaccines. If we apply a cream for detection and it works, it only solves part of the problem, as people also catch colds by other means, not just the skin.



wiki neuroaminadase
wiki hemagglutinin


Problem: Hypertension. Angiotensin I converting enzyme (ACE) catalyses formation of angiotensin II (vasoconstrictor) and inactivation of bradykinin (vasodilator). Important role in RAS - regulation of blood pressure and fluid homeostasis. Action of ACE acts to raise blood pressure - hypertension; numerous deleterious effects. ACE is thus an ideal therapeutic target for hypertension. Existing ACE inhibitory drugs are useful but have some unpleasant side-effects and are also fetotoxic.

Solution: Number of animal/plant food-derived peptides have been shown to exhibit anti-ACE activity; these include peptides from milk, egg, muscle protein, sunflower, mung bean soy bean, garlic, broccoli, wine and cereal storage proteins (many others also). Tripeptides produced by Lactobacillus helveticus produces ACE inhibitory tripeptides under the activity of a preoteinase that hydrolyses milk. This has been used to ferment milk, which is then dried into a powder. We could get our bacteria to express the proteinase and encapsulate it. Then people with hypertension can add it to their morning cereal for their daily dose of ACE inhibitory tripeptides.


Reference: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=194939

Author Royah Vaezi

A potential application: Initial interest in the practical applications of brightly coloured anthocyanins found in plants and vegetables has stemmed from their potential as replacements for banned dyes because they have no apparent adverse effects on human health. Recently much attention has been drawn to anthocyanin-derived plant products due to their general antioxidant properties and a consistent association between the consumption of diets rich in fruits and vegetables and a lower risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

This study (2009) demonstrates for the first time the expression of an artificial gene cluster in E. coli of four plant-derived genes involved in the lower anthocyanin biosynthetic pathway.

However, cancer research on anthocyanins is the most advanced, where black raspberry (Rubus occidentalis L.) preparations were first used to inhibit chemically induced cancer of the rat esophagus by 30-60% and of the colon by up to 80% (see references).

Bacterial strains, plasmids, and culture conditions. E. coli TOP10F was used for DNA manipulations and E. coli JM109 for shake flask experiments. Plasmids pTrcHis2-TOPO and pK184 were used for cloning.

Reference: http://aem.asm.org/cgi/content/full/71/7/3617?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=biosynthesis&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&volume=71&issue=7&resourcetype=HWCIT

Author Dineka Khurmi

Other areas of interest:

These might provide some food for thought...

1) Antimicrobial agents

2) UV absorbing proteins

3) Pigments (e.g. paint or ink)

4) Washing powder or other cleaning enzmyes

5) Anti-aging peptides

6) Biotoxins (e.g. pesticides)

7) Odour

8) Biofuels (Cellulases)

9) Food additives (myrosinase)

James Field

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