Juliana & Fiammetta
Fiammetta: I’ve been reading Juliana’s text from the point of view of a non-expert. What I’d like to do is to “decrypt” making it easily understandable, to raise awareness about worldwide initiatives to fight the pandemics, even among undergraduate students!
My idea is to start from Juliana’s text and create short, digestible pieces of information and illustrate them to make them more clear and compelling, and create a short visual lesson.
Juliana is now working on a series of sketches to represent each “mini chapter”. Here are some notes I took while discussing with her about the possible visualizations.
Synthetic Biology against the Pandemic
Juliana: Synthetic biology is such a versatile area, last year there were many initiatives around it to combat COVID19! That is why I want to bring you the ones that I found most interesting in the area of diagnosis, therapy, and prevention that were developed by undergraduate students for the largest International Competition that surrounds Synthetic Biology, Igem. Go for it!
F: IMAGE: Juliana in a lab coat, talking and introducing the topic.
Rapidemic (Netherlands Team)
J: During the first weeks of the pandemic and we still saw very clearly the lack of diagnostic tests in different countries, among the most affected third world and developing countries for not having access to the infrastructure and reagents that require PCR diagnostic tests.
F: IMAGE: Person positive to COVID19 (e.g. having the virus “hidden”, masked in her). This should represent the main problem; the following illustrations will illustrate alternative solutions.
J: That is why Rapidemic offers a Diagnostic option based on nucleic acids (which are the tests that have the highest sensitivity) engineered from generic kits with small and accessible interchangeable pieces of DNA called primers (which are specific for each pathogen) with the great potential to offer diagnostic solutions.
F: IMAGE: the actual kit from Rapidemic. Use the reference with different tubes of different colors: The greener the liquid, the more likely the positivity
But how does it work? All organisms have unique DNA sequences that can be identified and employing enzymes, these enzymes multiply DNA to obtain many copies, this is how most diagnostics work at the molecular level. PCR has this principle, however, these copies of the pathogen of interest can only be visualized by very expensive and specialized equipment that detects this signal of fluorophores in these sequences, so this group devised a way to detect microorganisms in a sample in which they find the DNA of the pathogen of interest and through DNAZymes generate a colorimetric reaction visible to the human eye !!!! Amazing, right?
F: IMAGE: ??? Here Juliana will help me to visualize something!
For more information visit:
MotBox (USA Team)
J: This therapeutic solution is inspired by origami and uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create mRNA sequences (which is responsible for carrying the message to synthesize proteins, including antibodies) from a virus. This AI has the form of the antigen (which in our case would be the covid19 virus) and generates an mRNA sequence with which antibodies could be generated to fight the disease. The antibodies work by binding to the protein S of the virus, which is The entry key for the virus to the cells it infects, obstructing the entry of the virus and at the same time marking the virus so that the cells of the immune response can destroy it.
F: IMAGE: Need Juliana’s input here, but for sure the origami reference is a promising one and as we can transform it in an understandable visual analogy.
For more information visit: https://2020.igem.org/Team:Harvard
ACT Technology (Israel Team)
J: This group had a preventive approach to the disease that aims to reduce transfer by methods other than face masks and gloves that cause contamination or chemical agents that are usually abrasive to human skin. This is how this group designed a hydrogel-based skin screen that contains proteins that act as "decoy proteins", the objective of which is to block the infection of host cells by the SARS-CoV-2 virus from bacterial spores. Bacillus subtilis (BSSD). Thus, when bacillus produces bait proteins, it begins to sporulate and bind the bait proteins to a microgel-pearl that we can spread on our skin!
F: IMAGE: The gel should be the main character here, with a “zoom in” on what’s happening inside it, at a microscopic level, when the skin gets in touch with the virus.
For more information visit: https://2020.igem.org/Team:Technion-Israel/Description