This page provides an overview of our project and the results we achieved.
The aim of our project is to defeat Malaria. To do so, we genetically modified a bacterium that is naturally present in Anopheles mosquitoes. Our engineered bacterium is designed to prevent malaria from infecting the mosquito. This in turn will prevent the transmission of the parasite to humans.
Our idea is to engineer Asaia, a bacterium that is naturally present in the mosquito's intestinal tract.
Our host bacterium Asaia is an organism that is not only easy to grow and to genetically manipulate but is also naturally present in the ecosystem. We aim to establish Asaia as a new chassis to give future iGEM teams the opportunity to quickly and efficiently engineer new and more potent Asaia strains. This would provide synthetic biology with a useful tool in the fight against malaria and other mosquito borne diseases.
So... ASAIA is the pink power against malaria.....
For an overview of our project, you can watch our movie iGEM EPFL movie
We established Asaia as a new chassis by providing detailed tech-sheets on how to manipulate it. We constructed several biobricks with which proteins can be produced that may block malaria infection. We also made Asaia-specific biobricks, such as the CFP construct to test expression. These tools will allow future iGEM teams to use Asaia and manipulate it to fight mosquito-borne diseases.
The expression of the proteins intended to block P. falciparum was tested in E. coli. The tests showed that the immunotoxin is expressed and it also appears in the supernatant, which is evidence for secretion. We could not show expression of the P-proteins, probably due to the AT-rich sequence.
Furthermore we tested the persistence of Asaia in D. melanogaster to see if it could be used as an alternative host to facilitate research. The results showed that Asaia is not persistent in D. melanogaster and we assume that it is because Asaia is very specific to mosquitoes.
We also established a collaboration with a Laboratory at the Pasteur Institute in Paris that works on mosquitoes to help us test whether our constructs indeed inhibit P. falciparum from infecting mosquitoes.