1. A cream made of squid to heal up burns? 🐙 @iGEM_Leiden team plans to use #bacteria to make a squid tentacle protein that mimics human skin! 🦠 Watch this video to know more! 👀
Currently, doctors don’t have enough treatments to restore the skin of burn victims back to its functional state. Now, the Leiden team of iGEM 2019 may have found a solution… in the Humboldt squid! These creatures have sucker ring teeth that they use to hook their prey. These teeth need to be strong and flexible to avoid the prey to swim away, and they get these attributes thanks to a protein: suckerin. Its qualities make this protein an exceptional material to replace human skin, but getting it from squids isn’t feasible. Here is where microbes can help us: the Leiden team is engineering bacteria to make them produce a form of suckerin that mimics human skin! Maybe this squid will be the key to change how burns are treated! Watch this video to know more>
2. Life can be pretty tough in the deepest part of the ocean 🌊 That’s why the anglerfish and these #AmazingMicrobes have teamed up to survive! 🐟🦠
The protagonist of the #AwesomeMicrobes of this month is a bacterium species that lives inside the shiny bulb of anglerfish! These microbes can produce light that allows the fish to fight the darkness of the bottom of the sea. In exchange, the anglerfish provides the bacteria with nutrients. They establish a very strong symbiotic relationship: once these microbes settle in the bulb, they lose the ability to live by themselves!
3. When fighting cancer, all the help is welcome! 🦸♀️ These #AmazingMicrobes can stimulate the immune system to make it fight this disease! 🦠 Read more here!
Cancer is one of the most common diseases of our days. When the body detects a tumour, it triggers the activation of the innate immune system cells and they elaborate a response to destroy the threat. But often the tumorous cells manage to hide from the immune system, or its response is too mild. To solve this problem, Synlogic and Roche companies have teamed up to engineer a non-pathogenic strain of Escherichia coli that can stimulate the immune system. When these bacteria detect tumorous cells, they express a specific set of genes to trigger the activation of innate immune cells.The future of cancer therapies may be closer to bacteria than we may expect! Read more>
4. Plants aren’t the only ones in charge of creating new oxygen 🌲 These #bacteria are vital for us to keep breathing 🦠 Now a human-caused threat may affect these microbes! ⚡ Read more here! 👇
Every year, tons of plastic waste are dumped in the seas around the world. The results are already visible: hundreds of beaches covered with this material and thousands of marine animals severely affected. But what if this irresponsible activity could impact not only these creatures but also the oxygen that most of living beings breathe? A new study shows plastic waste is affecting prochlorococcus, a marine bacteria species that creates around ten percent of the oxygen of the atmosphere. The results of this research shows an inconvenient truth: the human impact on the oceans is higher than we thought. Read more>
5. Stop the music! 🎶 All the parts of these headphones are made of microbe-grown substances! Impossible? No, #SynBio! Read more here!
The electronics market is based on planned obsolescence: items stop working after a while so customers have to buy new ones. But, once the electronics break down, they become toxic waste that likely ends up in a landfill. Finnish design house Aivan has tried to change this with a pair of headphones made entirely of biodegradable materials. For example, the main structure material is a yeast-processed bioplastic and the padded earpieces are made of hydrophobin a fungus protein that acts as artificial foam. The design of these headphones introduces an important concept: sustainable materials could make electronics. And microorganisms may help us with this task! Read more>
6. There are four different types of blood, but only type O can be accepted by any patient! 💉 These #AwesomeMicrobes can help to transform type A blood into this universal blood type! 🦠 Discover how here! 👇
Around the world, there is always a need of blood for a wide range of medical procedures. Normally, people have one of four blood types—A, B, AB, or O. These types differ in the sugar molecules on the surfaces of their red blood cells. If a person with type A receives type B blood, or vice versa, these molecules cause the immune system to attack the cells. O-type cells lack of these molecules so it is suitable for everybody, but it is way scarcer. Now researchers have engineered Escherichia coli bacteria to eat away the sugars of type A red cells and turn them into O-type! This progress may help to increase the supply of blood and thus, save lives! Read more>
7. Some #bacteria are tough to detect 🔎 And when treating an infection, time is gold ⌛ This tool detects these #microbes in a matter of minutes by “zapping” them with electricity! ⚡ 👇
Some bacteria are particularly sneaky and identifying them becomes a challenge. When treating an infection, time can become a matter of life or death, and some patients can’t wait. Now, scientists from the University of Warwick have made an interesting observation: living bacteria that can be harmful show completely different electric reactions than inhibited or dead ones, which are inoffensive. This difference of behaviour has become a foothold to develop a system to detect live bacterial cells in a matter of minutes! The technology uses electricity to ‘zap’ bacteria and uses their response to figure out their current status. This new procedure may be useful also to test samples or products such as processed food to detect bacterial contamination! Read more>
8. Summertime, and the livin’ is easy! 😎🎶 As easy and fun as our #AgarArt challenge of June!🎨 We can’t wait to see you results! 👀
Warm temperatures, the sun shining in the sky… you probably noticed it, but summer is here! This month we dedicated our Agar Art Challenge to the arrival of the new season.
9. There is a Pseudomonas strain that would be pleased to drown in a drink… but in which one? ☕🍺 You can vote now in our #SynbioQuiz!
And the answer is… A! There is a natural occuring Pseudomonas putida strain that can eat caffeine! Unlike many humans, they don’t do it to stay awake and focused: they use this substance to obtain energy to survive. This amazing feature has been used by scientists from the Universities of Texas and Iowa to engineer a well characterized bacterium model, E. coli, with the caffeine-degrading enzymes present in this Pseudomonas putida. The resultant synthetic biology application may be useful to determine the amount of this substance in beverages like coffee or energy drinks!
10. Solar panels are the future of energy, but they aren’t very efficient yet ☀📉 Now researchers have improved a #bacteria light-absorbing protein to make them harvest more energy! 🦠 ⚡
Solar energy may be the energy of the future: it produces no waste and its source is endless. Unfortunately, there is still an inconvenient: it’s not efficient enough to meet our high energy demands. Solar panels can’t convert all the sunlight they receive, so most of it gets lost in the process. To solve this problem, these researchers turned their heads to nature looking for inspiration. Some bacteria have special proteins that allow them to harvest light and transform it into energy to survive. They combined these proteins with semiconducting nanocrystals and metals to create a structure that may be able to improve the efficiency of solar panels! Once again, nanotechnology and synthetic biology team up and the result is a promising step forward towards a sustainable energy source. Read more>