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Our Idea

Synthetic biology is a quickly evolving branch of biology that has brought almost miraculous promises for the future. However, as with every new great discovery that could revolutionize the future, we encounter newer, unforeseen obstacles. One such obstacle is currently troubling industries, biotechnology and medicine alike. 

Organisms that synthetically acquire a new gene whose origin is from a different species (target gene), have no selection process obligating its retention. This means that the organism must pay the metabolic load that comes with the acquired gene or genes and all the processes involved. Therefore, mutations that damage the target gene are prone to occur, returning the organism to its original form. Usually afterwards the WT (wild type) has a higher fitness. Thereafter, this is just a matter of time until it takes over the whole population.

In Biotechnology, Medicine and industry, this means that today any new product that involves synthetic biology is bound to be obsolete after a relatively short amount of time. Thus, it has to be replaced constantly in a never-ending cycle.

STAUbility is our idea to improve this situation. Since it is not always viable to have selection for the gene introduced, our solution attempts to be applicable for many configurations, and extend significantly fold the time until the gene is lost in the population. We decided to link the target gene with an essential gene under the same promoter in the organism, thus lowering the mutation rate of the target gene and the promoter based on its effects on the essential gene. In order to optimize our solution, we are developing a model that will evaluate which genes would make a better pair. In addition, our model will optimize which linker to use, as well as the nucleotide encoding. This will take into account many of the genes' features,  including the origin of the target gene. This will culminate in a software program that will aid users decide the best ways to introduce new genes into the DNA of an organism.

 

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Haim Levanon 55, Tel Aviv, Israel

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