About This Project
Our project aims to provide a method of detecting pancreatic cancer in humans. We are using yeast in this project as a method for expressing Cripto-1, a membrane protein which binds to a biomarker for pancreatic cancer. We hope to be able to couple CR-1 binding to a reporter inside yeast for indication of the presence of the biomarker in human blood serum. This could offer insight into the potential for synthetic biology as an important medical tool in the future.
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What is the context of this research?
According to a study done by Melo et. al, Glypican 1 is a biomarker that is present specifically in the blood serum of pancreatic cancer patients. Presence of Glypican 1 correlates with subsequent tumor formation. Our project aims to engineer yeast to detect this biomarker using a non-invasive method. We are using the protein CR-1, which is known to bind specifically to Glypican 1 according to a study done by Bianco et. al in 2003. We hope to express the CR-1 protein on the membrane of yeast and subsequently couple the CR-1 to a reporter such as GFP.
What is the significance of this project?
Successful completion of this project could potentially provide the medical community with a novel method for early detection of pancreatic cancer. Current detection methods are inefficient at identifying the presence of cancerous cells before tumor formation. The use of MRI and CT scans can only identify the presence of large tumors, and at this point the patient is often not eligible for surgery or treatment. An early detection method would be particularly useful for individuals who are at a higher risk for pancreatic cancer due to family history or environmental factors.
What are the goals of the project?
Our primary goal is expression of the CR-1 protein on the membrane of yeast. Expression of this protein would allow specific binding to Glypican-1. After this is accomplished, we can work on coupling the CR-1 to a signal cascade in yeast, producing bioluminescence. Ideally, the yeast that we engineer will fluoresce green in the presence of Glypican-1. We plan on presenting our research at the 2016 iGEM Jamboree in Boston in October 2016.
Antibodies for CR-1 are essential to the success of our project. We need these antibodies in order to test for the expression of the CR-1 protein on the yeast membrane. The successful expression of this protein will allow us to proceed with the next phase of our project, which is coupling the protein to GFP as a reporter.
Laboratory supplies for our project include pipette tips, incubation boxes for Western Blot tests, nitrile gloves, and PCR purification kits. These supplies will allow us to carry out the techniques and tests necessary for the completion of our project.
Although we were fortunate enough to receive some funding through the university and the generous donations of some biotechnology companies, we won't be able to reach our goals without your help!
Meet the Team
Stony Brook iGEM
The Stony Brook iGEM team, founded in 2014, is an undergraduate research group geared towards solving real world problems using synthetic biology techniques. Comprised of a diverse group of undergraduates ranging in both year and major, the iGEM team seeks to foster a passion for scientific inquiry and equip students with the knowledge and skills to potentially pursue further research.
Josh is a junior music major that plans to pursue Ph.D. in Chemistry after undergrad.
Tasnia is a rising senior biology major and bioengineering minor. She has a primary research interest in oncology and specifically pancreatic cancer research. She hopes to earn a Ph.D. in cell biology and pursue a career as a laboratory based research scientist.
Andy is a junior at Stony Brook University with a double major in Health Science and Biology. He is ambitiously pursuing a career as a doctor and hopes that he can impact others through science and medicine. Outside of lab and academics, Andy is also the co-captain of the fencing team and the Public Relation Officer for Sigma Beta Honor Society. Andy loves to relax and watch movies during his free time.
Sarah is a rising junior at Stony Brook University. She is majoring in biomedical engineering, with a specialization in cellular and molecular bio-engineering. In the future, she plans to obtain her PhD, and continue on in a career of both research and teaching at the college level.
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