Berkeley UC


iGEM 2007

The necessity of inexpensive, disease-free, and universally compatible blood substitutes is undisputed. There are currently no blood substitutes approved for use in the US or the UK, and whole blood is almost always in short supply. Developing countries have the greatest need for blood transfusions, yet many lack the necessary donation and storage infrastructure and the required pool of healthy donors. To address this problem, we are developing a cost-effective red blood cell substitute constructed from engineered E. coli bacteria. Our system is designed to safely transport oxygen in the bloodstream without inducing sepsis, and to be stored for prolonged periods in a freeze-dried state.

Support for Berkeley iGEM 2007 was generously provided by SynBERC and The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, Inc.


The System's Components

Oxygen Transport

Our system is designed to produce Hemoglobin, Heme, and the necessary chaperones and detoxifying agents to promote the transport of oxygen throughout the bloodstream.  We also investigated alternates to hemoglobin and other strategies for its production.

The Chassis

Our bacterial chassis has been heavily modified to remove its sepsis-inducing toxicity, immunogenic factors, and ability to grow within the bloodstream, as well as promote its ability to last longer in the bloodstream by masking it from the immune system.

The Controller

The Controller is an integrated genetic circuit comprised of two plasmids that allows stable maintenance of the system's various operons on a large single-copy plasmid in a dormant state. Upon induction, the copy number of the operons and their transcription increase 100-fold resulting in a dramatic increase in protein expression.

Genetic Self-Destruct

To prevent chance of infection or unwanted proliferation after hemoglobin production, we have engineered a genetic self-destruct mechanism whereby when induced, the bacterial cell will express a genetic material-degrading toxin which kills the cell, but leaves it physically intact.

Freeze Drying

To enable preservation of our bacteria for prolonged periods, we are including the ability to produce the compounds hydroxyectoine and trehalose that will enable our bacteria to survive freeze-drying intact.  This will dramatically increase shelf-life and decrease transport costs.

Human Practices

An examination of the landscape of patents and the patentablilty of Bactoblood where its parts are in an open source forum and the challenges associated with current patenting practices for synthetic biology.

Individual Contributions

The specific contributions made by each team member and advisor.

Team Resources

Organizational spreadsheets, useful tools and links.

Team Notebooks

The team members' daily logs of our research.

Team Members

John Dueber Christopher Anderson Adam Arkin Jay Keasling

Teaching Assistants
Farnaz Nowroozi Amin Hajimorad Rickey Bonds

Kate Spohr Kevin Costa Gwyneth Terry

Undergraduate Researchers
Arthur Yu Austin Day David Tulga Kristin Doan Samantha Liang Vaibhavi Umesh Kristin Fuller

High School Students
Vincent Parker Nhu Nguyen Hannah Cole