We initiated a collaborative effort with Team Heidelberg, who designed a software for generating new aptamers. At that point in time, we thought our controls were working better than they were and that we would be able to use the aptamers they designed in our system. When we were hesitant to commit due to the time it would take to clone plasmids to work with a new aptamer-trigger combination, Heidelberg suggested a modified switch design where the trigger could be the same as what was previously used, so no cloning would be required. We started moving forward with this design….and then realized that our negative controls had produced the same results as our positive control for the last two experiments. Set-back about a month, at the end of August, we concluded we could not reasonably plan on testing Heidelberg’s aptamers. We additionally realized that the aptamers their software was designing likely too short to work in the sort of switch we had designed. We scrambled to design new ways of detecting proteins and ordered several for synthesis, including Heidelberg’s idea with a longer aptamer. Then, just days before the wiki freeze, we produced some very promising results. We remain optimistic we will be able to test one of Heidelberg’s aptamers or the switches they inspired before the iGEM. Stay tuned for the results to be presented in Boston!
We also skyped with rookie team, Nait_Edmonton, and helped them navigate iGEM policies and advised them on how to recruitment and team logistics. As we have a big team, that is entirely student led and independent of another PI, we have had to figure out to divide work amongst our volunteer team members. We advised them to give people very specific tasks to maintain accountability. We also answered questions about the Jamboree and got them excited to go!
Additionally, we sent our laboratory protocols to the University of Michigan Software Team who designed a protocol database for their project. SInce their project did not involve any wetlab work, they kindly gave us their iGEM sponsored reagent samples and DNA synthesis.