Oxford

Description: To be considered for the Oxford iGEM team, we each had to write a short statement explaining why we would make good team members. The previous years' team selected us based on this, and after the Christmas break, we arrived in January as a team of 11! From January to March, we were brainstorming potential projects - first, individuals pitched short ideas and we discussed these as a team to exclude some initial ones based on feasibility or originality, taking into account previous iGEM projects. By February, we had narrowed down to 3 projects, and split into small sub teams to conduct more extensive feasibility studies into each of these. By March, we all decided to devote our efforts to the project addressing Wilson's Disease. The problem: Wilson’s disease Wilson’s disease is a genetic disorder which causes the body to accumulate too much copper. This causes liver failure and brain damage in affected patients. Wilson’s is a rare disease because it affects about 1 in 30,000 people (250k worldwide). The drugs currently used to treat Wilson’s are copper-binders, but there are two major problems with these: 1) Toxicity: these drugs have severe side effects, and treatment course often has to stop 2) Administration: tablets need to be taken before every meal for the rest of the patient’s life Our solution: probiotic bacteria A growing field in medicine is ‘probiotic pills’ – using micro- organisms to provide health benefits. At Oxford iGEM we are exploring the potential to introduce a special bacterial population in the gut – which have been genetically modified to bind copper. This would reduce the amount of copper that can be absorbed into the blood, and therefore prevent its accumulation in the blood. Compared to current drugs, this solution offers: 1) Lifelong cure: bacteria persist in the gut and excrete the copper they bind to as they are turned over 2) Fewer side-effects: copper binding occurs in the bacteria and is isolated from the body
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Year: 2016Visit Wiki
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Updated at: 8/9/16