IGEM team meeting notes 9/15/14

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Agenda 9/15/2014

Attendees: Advait (zoom), Patrik, Marc, Rachel, Maria, Thorson, Isaac, Rebecca, Ben, Moises, Jamie Call-in info: https://zoom.us/j/820128495 Or, go to https://zoom.us/join and enter meeting ID: 820 128 495

Announcements: Marc found 2 incubators - one working; put one in BioC? $500 for both. Need to contact equipment@biocurious.org to ensure moving an incubator to BioCurious is okay with Eric and Eri. Marc is arranging to pick up biosafety cabinet on Wednesday at 7pm in RC - needs help! Possibly incubators same day as well (at Stanford) --Found group in Redwood City selling lots of equipment cheaply, mostly large stuff, but some centrifuges, etc. CCL should assemble an equipemnt wishlist.

Patrick signed up CCL for October 19, 2014 East Bay Mini Maker Fair. Need to print some new marketing materials, including most current projects donations page. Jamie interested in handing out CCL/RVC materials at SF VegFest (10/11 & 10/12/14) Bay Area Science Festival? (10/23 - 11/1/14)


Agenda for today (in series):

- Vegan cheese in the world: Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications (https://wiki.realvegancheese.org/index.php/Ethical,_Legal,_and_Social_Implications) -Brainstorming questions: 1. What are the issues involved/ potential matters of concern for our project? 2. In what ways have we already been taking ELSI into account throughout the design and process of RVC project? 3. What is our approach to ELSI? (mention previous approaches) 4. How should we present our thinking on ELSI for iGEM?

1. Issues involved: Issues are at many scales from small to large. Can think about all scales simultaneously?

  • Does the process of preparing lab products for consumption fall under this umbrella?
  • Eric Harness had concerns re: which parts from our project can be freely exchanged. Plasmids only? Cheese made out of lab, in kitchen conditions? WE NEED RESTRICTIONS AND POLICIES TO BE CLEARLY DELINEATED ON THE WIKI.
  • Transgenic organisms - containment. Some evidence that yeast are fairly localized; SF sourdough starter doesn't last outside SF. BUT yeast are also "leaky" reproducers
  • We need to quantify whether what we're doing is better for the environment than conventional, mammalian cheeses. Methane capture from cows (which disincentivizes free range?) CO2 capture from bioreactors? Inputs: cow feed vs. yeast food input. We calculated ~50% less (based on Kim et al. (2005) J. Ind. Microbiol Biotechnol 2.5 g/L yield for human caseinomacropeptide.
  • Long term transition from cows to bioreactors: what kinds of expertise are necessary? Would we necesssarily be reliant on big industrial players?
Craig: this could just as easily be done in a clay pot. The yeast does have the recombinant plasmid, with antibiotic resistance. 
  • Suggestion that we make a list of similiar useful products (chymosin, insulin, vanilin etc the more and the better document who years in use etc)

Other approaches by other iGEM teams:

 * The E. chromi project used scifi
 * Lots of public outreach where people might go into schools and educate or gather public opinions via polls.

Risks brainstorm

  • Antiobiotic resistance might transfer to another organism (especially gut bacteria)
  • Our DNA insertion could create a new (possibly toxic) protein, especially if chromosomally inserted
  • Caseins are known to be allergens. If you mess with them, they could become more allergenic. We have done site-directed mutagenesis
  • Tons of S. cerevisiae horizontal gene transfer. Our genes could get into local yeast species (or maybe even other species)
  • We could end up with caseins in local yeast populations. Some people are allergic to caseins. This could seriously affect them.
  • We risk becoming more reliant on industrialization, centralization and expertise
  • Move in a complicating rather than a simplifying direction
  • Joking: We could ruin the nappa wine industry!
  • We are playing god and will be punished by the almighty
  • Competing with a more sustainable type of farming / putting farmers out of work
  • we'll make cows go extinct!
  • Unpredictability of shifting protein source for worldwide vegans
  • B12 = present in normal cheese, absent in our product. B12 is one of the most complicated biological molecules. Animals don't produce, bioaccumulate from bacteria.
  • Our old buddy = caseins cause cancer, and so do all animal proteins. Jamie got excellent response from vegan dietician on facebook page.
  • Traditional cheese likely to be more nutritionally & chemically complex than we currently understand. The more we have to add, the more sourcing issues could arise.
  • where we get our oils (environmental problems with palm oil, and other good oils)
  • Can we actually make something that tastes like "real" cheese?
  • other uses for casein? blend with other vegan cheese instead of trying to mimic cow cheese? or new recipes? Nutritional yeast-like product for yeast + casein.
  • If we could use our vegan casein to "veganize" other products that contain casein, but are otherwise vegan.
  • Can this be done economically enough to acheive the goal of replacing dairy products?
  • Natural vs. synthetic concerns. (Can address, in part, by listing accepted products, their safety, years of use, etc.) - insulin, chymosin probably best examples
* Mark Post (first in vitro hamburger) says we make a strategic mistake by aiming solely at vegans - should be a food for everyone. If the only thing we achieve is to convert existing vegans to eat our cheese, we haven't accomplished anything

We should all look at our statement of values: https://wiki.realvegancheese.org/index.php/Ethical,_Legal,_and_Social_Implications

    • We need to make sure we can explain how our approaches embody our values. Mechanisms of accountibility.

Our non-hierarchical organization.

"ELSI" / "human practices" terms doesn't include environmental concerns - big issue!


- Experimental planning:

  - how to debug human beta casein transformation?
   failed cloning is #1 culprit - retry that before anything else
  - ordering URA- defined yeast medium CM Glucose Plates minus Uracil. 100mm, 20 plates, sterile. Cat.No. C3080 - http://www.teknova.com/CM-GLUCOSE-AGAR-PLATES-minus-URACIL-p/c3080.htm
  - planning DIY plant DNA extraction protocol (+order DNeasy kit for comparison)

Rachel saw a mention that "the longer the better" could also try PEG mediated transformation - more finicky, but does not require carrier DNA.

  - redesign 1 last gene


- IndieGogo fulfillments

  - any more Ask a Biohacker / Tell Us Why We're Wrong? Are we doing a good job at responding to the latter? Organize workdays to sit in the same room and work on the Ask a Biohacker videos.
  - any progress on physical perks?

lab coats (where to get the embroidery done?) jewelery Textbooks T-shirts stickers (want UV-resistant, die-cut, vinyl stickers --> Sticker Robot? Ps Print?) Sticker Robot has 500 die cut, vinyl stickers for 47 cents each. Need 260 for campaign. Standard logo, not narwhal.