UBC Academic Interaction

This summer, our student leader Yingtong Wang participated in the UBC VSP, where she met students and teachers from all over the world. As a result, she had wonderful academic exchanges at UBC. She gained a deeper understanding of synthetic biology by taking advantage of the rich academic resources and by meeting top professors and researchers.

On campus, she had several interactions with professors after class, discussing the iGEM competition and teaching them about our project. The professor was very enthusiastic in communicating with her and she gained a lot from the experience, even though the communication was not smooth enough due to the language problem. Synthetic biology is also a very new field in Canada, and the professor was looking forward to bacterial therapies for tumours. He warmly invited Yingtong to the high-tech lab to experience the advanced and cutting-edge equipment and technology.

At the same time, Yingtong also contacted students from various schools in different countries on campus and was surprised to find that many of them were also participating in the iGEM competition! Unlike the exchanges in China, the teams from around the world were working on projects that were much more varied and spanned a wider range of topics, which was an eye-opening experience. During the exchanges, she got timely feedback from the teams and passed the information to our team to improve our project in time. It is so nice to share each other's ideas and experiences in the pleasant communication with each other, and to contribute to synthetic biology and the well-being of the world together!

A questionnaire to the public

We distributed questionnaires to the public to collect their views, to improve the programme and to guide publicity and education.

During the process, members of the HP prepared a questionnaire for the general public and attached an electronic version of the informed consent form. In the questionnaire, we started from various angles, such as basic status, living habits, health status and so on, to investigate some questions about our project to the public. In addition, some knowledge about anti-cancer and cancer prevention was also covered. Most importantly, we asked the public about microbial treatment of tumours and listed some aspects that the public might be worried about. At the end of the questionnaire, we introduced our project to the public, highlighting the advantages of the project in order to investigate the acceptance level of the public.

We collected the results of the questionnaire in the background and held the information in strict confidentiality and used the data strictly in accordance with the relevant questions we committed to in the execution of the consent form. We can learn from the results of the questionnaire what the public thinks about microbial therapy in terms of lifestyle habits, the causes of colorectal cancer, and what kind of views and attitudes they have towards our new project.

The results of the questionnaire show that 76.9% of the respondents are sedentary, 53.21% have an irregular diet, and 35.38% have an excessive intake of high-protein and high-calorie foods. These are the main causes of colorectal cancer as listed by the WHO.

Among all the respondents, 90% of them believe that tumours can be cured. But when it comes to bacterial therapy, 20% of them believe that bacteria can only play the role of health care products in the treatment of tumours. As for the bacteria in the treatment of tumours, most of the public would most like to be able to reduce the toxicity of microorganisms are detoxifying strains that are harmless to the human body, as well as to improve its targeting and reduce the impact on other tissues or organs in the body, and hope that the therapy can be combined with surgery.

After getting these results, we looked internally at their project to make safer measures in the direction of the interpretation of strains, while the we also made focused outreach and explanations in the upcoming campaigns and presentations based on the feedback from the public.

Interview with Wei Sun

3.1 STAT3

Wei Sun, an expert in biosafety at the College of Basic Medical Sciences of Jilin University, discussed with us what we need to do to prepare ourselves as a newcomer to the field of research and what we need to be aware of when it comes to biosafety.

In terms of biosafety, our team is highly focused on making sure that our research content meets the demand of the iGEM competition and we have exerted ourselves to avoid biosafety issues as a result of our research. As a team, this principle is applied throughout our project. We met with the dedicated biosafety staff at Wei Sun's institute before we conducted the overall wet lab, scheduled a time for experimental safety training, and signed a commitment to experimental safety for our team members.

During this meeting, Wei Sun gave us a detailed overview of the key points to be aware of in terms of laboratory safety and intercellular safety. In addition, we discussed in detail with Wei Sun the specific strains we were studying. Wei Sun appreciated the content of our research and pointed out the importance of such innovative work. However, we must not overlook the pathogenicity and invasiveness of Salmonella itself as a pathogen. Given our team's desire to apply it in therapeutic sessions, we must be concerned about whether it will lead to the spread of the bacteria and how to define the difference between the bacteria as a biological agent and a biological weapon.

After theoretical and basic safety training within the school, our PI led us to Changchun Saidi Biotechnology Co. for further biosafety training. While learning about the pharmaceutical process of biologics, we also learned the international principles of different levels of biosafety. This training deepened our understanding of biosafety and provided us with a more comprehensive background for our research.

Our team has always been extremely concerned about biosafety and adheres to the biosafety principles set forth by the iGEM competition requirements and international organizations. During the course of our research, we continue to rigorously verify experimental validation and biosafety to ensure safety. If you would like to learn more about safety-related content, please click to check our Safety page.

We signed the Laboratory Safety Notification Letter as well as the Safety Agreement of School of Basic Medical Sciences of Jilin University at the College, and discussed and revised the Safety Form with Dean Sun, and we will go to the CDC again for further biosafety validation.

An interview with the experts in medical ethics: Prof Haiyan Liu

After talking to the clinicians, researchers and technology companies, and before proceeding with further experiments, we would like to talk to the faculty of the university's ethics committee to find out whether the team's idea can be realised ethically and what kind of issues we need to be aware of in the course of the experiments.

In the communication with Prof Liu Haiyan, we learnt that the state has issued corresponding laws and regulations and review methods for biosafety and ethics, such as the Opinions on Strengthening Ethical Governance of Science and Technology, the Measures for Ethical Review of Life Science and Medical Research Involving Human Beings, etc., in which the ethical issues that should be paid attention to in the process of experimentation were also pointed out. For example, in the laboratory, the management of experimental materials should be strengthened, the inspection and maintenance of laboratory equipment should be strengthened, and we were also told which experimental wastes should be harmlessly disposed of. Meanwhile, in the process of interviews, every interviewee should be respected. During questionnaires or surveys, informed consent should be obtained from the respondents and their private information should not be disclosed, especially for the stakeholders, who should know what the meaning of the questionnaire is, what data the team needs to use from them, which provides us with important opinions for distributing the questionnaires, etc.

After communicating with Prof Liu, we faced up to the problems that we need to pay attention to in our experiments, and at the same time, under Liu's suggestion, we actively checked the laws and regulations related to biosafety and ethics, and started to write the informed consent form and the manuscript on privacy protection, and we also need to ensure the privacy of the respondents during the questionnaire survey. We have gained new confidence in our project! For the next step, we will continue to seek help from new experts on safety and experimental soundness.

Qizhong biotechnology

Jilin Qizhong Biotechnology Co., Ltd. is a high-tech biotechnology company focusing on medical research, experimental development, cell technology R&D and application, commissioned production of pharmaceuticals, and drug clinical trial services.

To lay the foundation for possible drug experiments, and to further improve the industrialization transformation of the project's research results, on the morning of September 26, 2023, JLU-NBBMS visited Jilin Qizhong Biotechnology Co. to discuss further the feasible ways of drug experiments and development with the industrialists.

Mr. Wang, the president of Qizhong Company, led the team members to visit the company's production line and product showroom and introduced the company's basic situation and its R&D technology. Our team leader introduced the current progress of the team's research projects and the demand for subsequent cooperation to the company's technical staff and had a detailed discussion with Qizhong's technical staff on biosafety, drug experiments, and other specific issues.

During the discussion between the two sides, the technical staff of Qizhong showed great interest in the team's idea of adopting bacterial modification to treat cancer in the team's research. Considering the industrialization transformation and promotion of the team's research results, the company personnel advised the team members on biosafety and medication pathways focusing on the national biosafety laws and regulations. The state supports the development of biotechnology, but at the same time, it also stipulates that risk assessment must be carried out and essential factors must be traced back to their roots to ensure that biosafety must not be jeopardized. In terms of the route of administration, unlike the nebulized inhalation method previously envisioned by the team, the company's personnel suggested an oral capsule approach. Capsules are more accessible to take and disintegrate in the intestinal tract for better absorption than other routes of administration. At the same time, capsule drugs are also conducive to localized release, more accessible to target cells, and can reduce the stimulation of other body parts. The two sides also had discussions on the details of drug production and clinical trials.

Through this visit and exchange activities, the team members further understood drug production and testing details. In the later research process, JLU-NBBMS initially decided to adopt the capsule form to develop drug samples and simultaneously deeply realized the importance of biosafety in drug development. In the subsequent research, the team will also explore different directions of biosafety with more organizations to promote the industrialization of the team's research results efficiently.

Boxun technology

Changchun Bioxun Biotech Company is a high-tech biological company specializing in physical in vitro detection reagents. They have a wealth of experience in producing scientific research finished products from the laboratory to the market.

To have a deeper understanding of the industrialization process of scientific research products from the laboratory to the market, and to better guide the team's research projects and transformation, JLU-NBBMS visited Changchun Bioxun Biotech Company to discuss the research paths and industrialization development methods of the team's research projects, based on the preliminary research design and experimental validation. It is hoped that through the cooperation with the biotechnology company, the team can understand more precisely the production process of the finished products from the laboratory to the market, enhance the communication and cooperation between the academia and the industry, and better guide the research and transformation of the team's research projects.

JLU-NBBMS first introduced the basic situation of the team's current research projects, experimental progress, and follow-up ideas. It carried out extensive exchanges on the industrialization application and continuous optimization of the project results. The company personnel led the team to visit the company's R&D department and laboratory and had an in-depth discussion. The company's R&D department manager introduced the company's main business, product lines, and leading technical features. During the interview, the company's R&D department manager said, "Drug production is a complex and sophisticated process that requires a high degree of specialization and strict quality control." Upon hearing that we had previously consulted a professional lawyer to study the relevant laws and regulations, the company personnel praised our approach. They explained to us the standards of clinical trials, quality control, raw material procurement, preparation production, packaging and storage, and other aspects of the industrialization of pharmaceutical products that need to be complied with under the norms of laws and regulations.

In the production workshop of the company's products, the company's technical personnel introduced the production process to the team members. They gave a detailed introduction to the blood type testing drugs that the company is currently developing and producing. The company's production technicians explained in detail the steps, environmental conditions required, and precautions to be taken during the industrialized production of the products.

In the quality testing department of the company, the team members understood the steps of pre-market quality testing of drugs, including physical and chemical property testing, content determination, impurity analysis stability testing, etc. The company's technicians also invited them to try out the samples of blood group testing drugs.

According to the advice given to us by Changchun Bioxun Biotech Company, we are transparent about the process and standard of drug industrialization, which is an excellent guidance for us to carry out the project later. At the same time, the company personnel also suggested that we learn to understand the intellectual property rights in drug development and production to realize better patent protection for our project.

Changchun WISH Technology

Changchun WISH Technology is an innovative science and technology service company integrating biomedical research, chemistry, biology, animal experimentation and testing in multiple fields, mainly involving biotechnology, chemical analysis, molecular and cellular biology, experimental animals and other fields.

Based on the optimization and improvement of the research project in many aspects in the previous period, in order to further promote the research and development and industrialization promotion of the finished drug, the JLU-NBBMS team of the School of Basic Medical Sciences visited Changchun Wisdom Stone Inspection and Technology Service Co. in the afternoon of September 26th, 2023, under the leadership of the supervising teacher, Prof. Zhang Ling, and conducted a visit and interview, hoping that, with the advice of the enterprise side, the team's research project will be We hope to optimize and improve the team's research project with the suggestions from the enterprises.

In Changchun WISH technologies, Manager Tang of the Business Department firstly led the team members to visit the company's laboratory and briefly introduced the company's main business, technical characteristics and industrial lines.

According to the work deployment of the National Health Commission, it is necessary to carry out comprehensive clinical evaluation of anti-tumor drugs in six dimensions, including safety, effectiveness, economy, innovation, appropriateness and accessibility. Combined with Tang’s own experience, the company's technical staff focused on introducing the team to the relevant research on evaluating the effectiveness of antitumor drugs. She pointed out that the level of effectiveness of antitumor drugs is the key to whether patients can benefit from them or not, therefore, effectiveness evaluation is crucial. The effectiveness assessment of antitumor drugs refers to the scientific evaluation of the degree of treatment of the patient's disease condition after the use of drugs, mainly from the two aspects of in vitro drug sensitivity test and in vivo drug screening test.

The in vitro drug sensitivity testing programs of WISH mainly include 2D cell screening and PDO (patient-derived organoid), which are observed by observing the IC50 (semi-inhibitory concentration), big data analysis report, and multi-sample analysis of a single cancer type. The in vivo drug screening tests, on the other hand, are mainly CDX-m, CDX-h, CDOX-h, and PDX. Overall, the effectiveness of antitumor drugs is comprehensively evaluated by observing tumor volume, body weight, organ coefficients, survival evaluation, and metastasis score.

Through this interview, JLU-NBBMS has gained a lot of knowledge about the comprehensive evaluation of antitumor drugs, especially the ways and methods of antitumor drug effectiveness evaluation. Next step, the team will further optimize the strategy and methods to verify the effectiveness of the drug translation of the team's research results.

Our own WeChat Official Account

During the competition, we not only created our own WeChat official account, "the iGEM of Basic Medical Sciences, "but also actively publicized and promoted our explorations and research results in the field of synthetic biology through this platform. We regularly share the progress and results of our current projects and introduce our experimental methods and techniques in detail on our public website. These outstanding results not only come from our in-depth exploration and research in the field of synthetic biology and passionate pursuit of the IGEM competition but also reflect our strong interest in the field of life sciences and our immense love for research work in the laboratory.

With the continuous updating and promotion, the popularity of JLU-NBBMS team is also increasing, and more and more people are beginning to pay attention to and support us. We are proud of the fact that our achievements and efforts have been highly evaluated and widely recognized not only on campus but also in the community. The public number has become the main platform for interaction and exchange of views and experiences within and outside our team, which has greatly improved the team's cohesion and bonding and formed a very good cooperative atmosphere, laying a solid foundation for our team development and project success.

In addition, we also pay special attention to the integration of team and individual growth. We encourage team members to actively participate in experiments, deepen and consolidate theoretical knowledge through practice, improve problem-solving ability and innovative thinking through solving practical problems, and improve communication and coordination ability through teamwork. We are convinced that only through real participation in teamwork can we truly feel the challenge and fun of scientific research and have deeper seeing and more rapid growth.

We understand that this battle requires long-term persistence and that we need to be united and work together.