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[2014/11/28]NYMU Team Wins a Gold Medal in the 2014 iGEM World Championship

[2014/11/28]

NYMU Team Wins a Gold Medal in the 2014 iGEM World Championship

Did you know that nearly 100% of human population is troubled by dental cavities, the notorious nightmare bothering a person ever since childhood? Many people may neglect the importance of good oral hygiene, yet it is a key to better health conditions. Serious problems such as halitosis and periodontal diseases often come along with cavities. Nowadays the best ways to prevent cavities include brushing one's teeth and applying fluoride. However, there are people who cannot care for their own teeth. For example, the young children, the elderly, the disabled, and the underprivileged, all of whom require long-term care or lack economic resources. An easy and sustainable method does not yet exist. Thus, NYMU iGEM team had come up with a plan in the hope of wiping out dental cavities.

Their project aims to lower the amount of cavity and biofilm causing bacteria in the mouth with synthetic biology. This research project has three components: (1) Control: "Control" is so-called because it is used to control the number of Streptococcus mutans, instead of killing it completely off, which would not help the matter. When the number of S. mutans exceeds the threshold that causes cavities, a designer circuit will then be activated, thus killing the excess S. mutans. (2) Cleanse (Anti-biofilm): Biofilm formation is part of the reason that S. mutans is so devastating to oral health. For adequate oral protection, biofilm formation is a problem we must solve. Therefore, two genetic circuits were designed by the team to treat the biofilm formed by S. mutans. (3) Care: While designing the Control and Cleanse components, it occurred to the team that they need a contingency plan in case these two sections failed, or were overwhelmed. At this point, the patient would probably require external help, in the form of a dentist check-up. For this reason, an alert system was developed to detect tooth decay as it is happening, and to send out a warning message to the HOPE's users.

By empowering both a specific bacteriophage and an oral probiotic, the team made a sustainable auto-adjusting bio-drug to eliminate cavities. The team of 19 students from NYMU and Leon Yim and Evonne Pei from Taipei American School (TAS), guided by NYMU Associate Professor Chang Chuan-Hsiung and Postdoctoral Fellow Chang Ching-Fen at the Center for Systems and Synthetic Biology, Assistant Professor Li Wan-Chun at the Department of Dentistry and TAS Director of Scientific Research Jude Clapper, won the gold medal again among the 243 teams registered for the iGEM World Championship competition held at Boston, USA in early November. NYMU iGEM team and its project "HOPE" (i.e., an acronym for Human Oral Protection for Everyone) had caught enormous attentions.

2014 NYMU iGEM team

2014 NYMU iGEM team


Official 2014 NYMU iGEM website

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