iGEM Bielefeld 2015


The targets of our test strip.

The aim of our project is to provide cell-free biosensors that can be used as test strips in real world applications.

We applied our designs for the detection of heavy metals. Heavy metal contaminations are a global problem, because they have different health effects to the human body. For this reason a simple and cheap test would a great help in poor areas. Several iGEM teams have dealt with the detection of heavy metals, so we decided to build upon this work and combine several heavy metal biosensors into one cell-free test strip. Those include some well-characterized sensors as well as basic ideas. By modifying, improving and/or characterizing these already existing sensors in addition to developing some new, we proofed the applicability of the general concept of parallel measurement of different substances on a test strip at the same time.

Parallel to these heavy metal sensors, we tackled a local problem. In our area, date rape drug intoxications are currently a major problem. Therefore, we created a sensor to detect a common date rape drug ingredient. These date rape drugs are usually a mixture of different substances that produce narcotic effects and thus make the victim defenseless. By now, the detection of date rape drugs is only possible in retrospect in the laboratory and only in a limited time frame. There is no possibility to check suspicious drinks quickly and easily.

While researching this topic, we became aware of the dual use issue concerning knowledge with misuse potential, like date rape drug ingredients or synthesis. Because the dual use issue is critical to the whole iGEM community and there are no guidelines yet for biosecurity risk assessment or dual use, we decided to write a report about legal and ethical aspects of the dual use topic and propose improvements for iGEM.

In short: We applied our biosensor designs to the detection of heavy metals in order to build a modular test strip for water analysis. Furthermore, we tackled the local problem of date rape drug intoxications.