For the 2008 iGEM competition, the Imperial team is designing a biofabricator using the Gram-positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis as our chassis. We will exert fine control over its movement via a recently-discovered clutch mechanism, using light as our stimulus to localise the bacteria. We then intend to trigger production and secretion of a self-assembling biomaterial in a set 3D pattern.
3D bio-scaffold materials have many applications in tissue engineering. Our blue-sky aim is to synthesise a precise biofabricator that can accelerate tissue engineering processes, hence making a contribution to the field of regenerative medicine.
This diagram gives an overview of how our system works. Initially, B. subtilis are motile and are not producing biomaterials. If we want to construct an "I" shaped 3D bio-scaffold, we shine a 3D hologram of the correct wavelength (red is used as an arbitrary example here) onto the growth medium.
Bacteria will sense that light and start to produce a clutch molecule. The clutch disengages the flagella from the motor quite quickly, rendering the subtilis stationary. Coupled with the clutch is a gene for expression for biomaterial synthesis. Should any individuals stray from the correct area, the clutch should disengage and material synthesis should stop.
We hope to build up our bio-scaffold material pixel by pixel in the defined area - the basis of our 3D biofabrication process.
Please continue on to our project pages - you may want to start with our >>> Project Specifications >>>