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Penn 2012 iGEM Wiki

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Our System

One of the most pervading diseases afflicting the lives of countless individuals is cancer. Current widespread therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy are limited in their ability to serve as a highly successful cancer therapeutic due to their off-target effects. As a result, one of our projects aims to solve some of these problems of specificity through an effective synthetic system that stems from the field of optogenetics. By using a system that is controlled by light we will engineer bacteria so that it kills cancerous cells with increased specificity in three dimensions. First, the bacteria will be able to specifically target cancerous regions through the use of antibody mimetic proteins (DARPins) that bind to growth factors which are commonly found on the surface of cancer cells. Second, because the system is light-activated we will be able to increase specificity by temporally controlling the duration of the cancer treatment. Since we have the ability to determine the exposure of light to the region of the tumor, the times between doses can be easily controlled. Third, since this treatment strategy has the additional advantage of being spatially-controlled by light, the drug does not lyse normal, unaffected cells.