In the past few months, our team has done a variety of offline and online publicity activities to spread the synthetic biology and intestinal knowledge to a large-scale, including face-to-face talk at school, online public engagement activity, regularly updating our public accounts, making picture books for kids, public engagement activity in Hangzhou low carbon science and technology museum, workshop in biology training camp. Our audience is mainly the general public who do not have a basic understanding of the gut and other biological lore. So, our team has spread useful medical knowledge to a wide range of people in an easily accessible way. We hope that our effort could be beneficial for the majority of public who is lack of basic knowledge in biology or has some problems with intestinal track. And some students might be also stimulated interests in exploring biological field.




Colorectal cancer is a kind of common cancer occurring in the gastrointestinal tract. This year, our goal is to study how to engineer an arginine-engineered probiotic for the immunotherapy of colorectal cancer.

Topic 1: Colorectal cancer

According to the latest data from the National Cancer Center, in China, 370,400 new colorectal cancer cases and 179,600 deaths were estimated in China in 2014. The age-standardized incidence and mortality rate of colorectal cancer has increased by about 1.9% per year for incidence and about 0.9% per year for mortality rate from 2000 to 2014.( https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2414644719301587 )What is more, in America, there will be an estimated 104,610 new cases of colon cancer and 43,340 cases of rectal cancer diagnosed in2020. besides, the mortality rate of colorectal cancer has increased by about 40% from 1995to 2020. ( https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/research/cancer-facts-and-statistics/colorectal-cancer-facts-and-figures/colorectal-cancer-facts-and-figures-2020-2022.pdf )

Thus, it could be seen that nowadays people do not put enough attention to this serious disease. A common cause of colon cancer is that people eat too much fat and not enough fiber. In other words, if people make a conscious effort to maintain a healthy diet, their risk of colon cancer can be greatly reduced. So, our team decided to use picture books, promotional videos, and offline activities to educate the public about the dangers of colon cancer and how to develop a healthy eating habit in an easy-to-understand way. Meanwhile, we also run our team's "self-media" on various domestic and foreign social platforms to update popular science articles and various activities of our team.

Topic 2: Synthetic biology

The aim of synthetic biology is to create an artificial biosystem that operates in the way synthetic biologists think. Although synthetic biology is imperceptibly changing the world, little is known about this discipline, we still love the feeling of creation. We plan to tell interesting and vivid stories based on our iGEM topic content. To make our project reach different groups and individuals in various fields, we decided to carry out diversified activities.

Topic 3: Arginine-engineered probiotic system

We know that arginine can inhibit the growth of cancer cells. So, our team members come up with the idea that we could increase the concentration of arginine around a patient's tumor to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and induce apoptosis. Ultimately it could cure cancer. However, if we simply inject arginine into patients’ bodies or let patients eat arginine orally, after going through a series of digestive systems in the human body, we will not achieve the goal of increasing the concentration of arginine around the tumor. We decided to use a probiotic, colon bacillus, which is not harmful to humans, as a raw material to create an engineered bacterial system that continuously produces arginine around tumors.

Topic 4:  Immunotherapy

we know that in terms of cancer treatment, traditional chemotherapy not only costs patients a huge amount of money but also causes serious damage to other organs in their bodies. Based on this, our team members choose to use immunotherapy, which has emerged in recent years, to attempt to study a method for the treatment of colorectal cancer

Immunotherapy is the treatment of disease by artificially boosting or suppressing an organism's immune system. These years immunotherapy is one of the most promising cancer treatment methods. It is based on the body's immune system, and then it will try to stimulate the potential of humans’ immune system. As a result, immunotherapy can help patients effectively suppress or even eliminate tumor cells.

In our project, we want to utilize the regulatory effect of arginine on the tumor microenvironment, affecting the expression of PD-L1 in tumor cells, and ultimately improving the viability of T cells.



1 Face-to-face talk at school

Due to the similarity in thinking form and communication mode, teenagers are our first choice for science popularization. To complete our science popularization plan - sharing colon cancer, immunotherapy, and synthetic biology, our team members applied to Hangzhou Foreign Language School for iGEM lectures together with Worldshaper-HZ. After being approved, the slides, posters, and official account advertisements were also implemented quickly.

We set three speech goals:

 Share the possible causes and latest research on colon cancer

 Share the disadvantage of traditional therapy methods, such as chemotherapy, operation, and radiotherapy

 Show the latest achievements of synthetic biology, for example how to use model animals like drosophila to establish screening model

 share the CRISPR Cas 9 technique

After the lecture, we received hundreds of messages from students, They felt fantastic about GMO and synthetic biology. There are some feelings and Q&A 

F1: In the past, I was misinformed that GMOs are harmful technology. I have never been lacked of information about GMOs, being afraid of products with GMOs. However, from your lecture, I realized that GMOs are just a method to alter the gene, from which we can take advantage of it. So does synthetic biology! Thus, I hope that you guys can popularize this kind of method with the public! 

Q1: what is the difference between molecular biology and synthetic biology 

Q2: as high school students, how can we consider synthetic biology and how to use it in our reality 

Q3: you guys have mentioned a new cancer-treating method: Immunotherapy, and I have seen this kind of treating cancer method awarded Nobel, so what is the difference between immunotherapy and traditional treating-cancer methods, such as chemotherapy? 

Q4: Now that immunotherapy has so many advantages, can we use it independently?



2 Online public engagement activity 

On July 10 we had the online publication event with Worldshaper-HZ, Worldshaper-Shanghai, Worldshaper-Nanjing, Worldshaper-NJBIOX, Ivymaker-China and GYHS. The seven teams together held a Tencent meeting which was live broadcasted on Bilibili. This publication event aimed to let more people know about what the teams are doing.

 During the meeting, the seven teams have

 discussed and shared how can we apply synthetic biology 

 introduced the teams we’re in

 exchanged our current progress.

 As for our team, first, we started with the background investigation of our project. In this part, we concisely explained what’s colon cancer and shared some information about EcN 1917, and the probiotics we use. Moving to the summary of experiment purposes, we aim to transform EcN 1917, which is expected to accumulate in tumor tissues, utilizing the metabolism of tumor cells to synthesize arginine constantly to improve the immune response. One more thing we mentioned in this part is the prospect of probiotics treatment. We mainly introduced what we can do with intestinal flora and the existing examples of probiotics used in clinic tumor prevention.

 At the end of our presentation, we answered some questions from the rest teams. A student questioned if the engineered probiotics could self-target the tumor tissue efficiently, we explained that the conclusion was mentioned in an article from Nature magazine. Another was confused about the synthetic way of arginine, so we shifted back to the page of detailed charts and explained again with it. I must say that the event is a valuable time for us to check our project and make it better.



3 Picture books for kids

Our team and LZU-CHINA, collaborated with SZ-SHD, planned to launch a picture book about synthetic biology, mainly for children in the second to sixth grade of elementary school, who lack education in the biology field.

On 7th June, all of our 3 teams had an online meeting with the Lifang Li professor, the dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Lanzhou University invited by LZU-China. She helped us refine our storyline and give our many useful suggestions to make children more accessible. However, synthetic biology is a vast topic, and considering the comprehension ability of children, we decided to use cartoons to convey the construction ideas of each of our teams. In the following few days, each team sorted out its storyline. The whole picture book is drawn by the artist Worldshaper-HZBIOX contacted and finished at the end of July.

Besides we printed the picture book and shared to the children participating in the engagement activity held in Hangzhou Low Carbon Museum. Meanwhile, LZU-China shared the picture books to the children of Landa Elementary School, both of which have achieved good publicity. And a small-scale children’s preview was also conducted to collect the feedback. For safety reasons, all our underage children’s surveys were taken in their guardians' presence. (The detailed results of survey please refer to the pdf attached below.)

Generally speaking, our picture book has basically achieved the purpose of promoting synthetic biology to younger children, but some children did not understand it due to too many professional terms and a slightly obscure plot. We subsequently reduced the number of terms and simplified the plot, and the final version of the book is shown below.

This browser does not support PDFs. Please download the PDF to view it: Download PDF.


4 Self-media regular update


We believe that a sustained online campaign is necessary for getting more people to know about our project. Therefore, we set up accounts on four social platforms, WeChat, Weibo, bilibili, and Instagram.

 Homepages of self-media accounts


4.1 Education Live Video

The main purpose of shooting this video is to publicize the project our team has done. Since this video was shot before, we went to the lab and just started part of the team task of our project, we still shot the video in a relatively simple and understandable way. Finally, it will be published on our team's "self-media" to publicize colon cancer, a disease related to our project.


The video shooting process did not go smoothly this time. We also changed the script several times during the shooting, but it did not greatly affect our final shooting results. In the shooting process, we had the biggest personnel shortage. In some scenes, there were no actors to play. Finally, our photography teacher replaced us and helped us complete the whole shooting! However, the publicity of self-media in the later period was very smooth. We published our publicity videos on Instagram, Weibo, WeChat official account, Bilibili, and other web media at the same time, and then edited out the tidbits and released them.

figure: The roles acted in the video


4.2 Co-launched some pup-science articles on the self-media with our partners

To raise citizens’ awareness about synthetic biology, Worldshaper-HZBIOX, LZU-CHINA, and SZ-SHD set up a synthetic biology column on the WeChat Official Account, posting articles and videos on it weekly. Generally, we reached a brilliant promotional effect. Thousands of people had read our pop-science articles. And also, we received some messages from readers which indicated that the interests in our popular science articles, and we have also achieved the goal of publicity and popular science, such as some questions related to the prices and side-effect of immunotherapy.





5 Public engagement activity in Hangzhou low carbon science and technology museum

The event featured DNA models made from toothpicks and candy, E. coli balloons made from plasmid fragments, drawing with pipette guns, and a joint drawing exhibition. In this official announcement we used synthetic biology as the basis, focusing on genetically engineered bacteria such as colon cancer and E. coli. Synthetic biology is an emerging cutting-edge biotech in recent years, simply put, it is a way to transform DNA by cutting, replacing and adding gene fragments, just like Lego, each Lego component is like a gene fragment, building Lego is a kind of creation, so synthetic biology is also a kind of creation, so when we design the game, we also run through the concept of creation. Really let the children love to create.  

During the activity, the team members actively showed the visitors and participated in the activity with them, and used candy and other environmentally friendly materials to simulate the model of DNA structure, so that the younger children also deeply appreciate the importance of environmental protection and a lot of biological knowledge. The Su High School team used a pipette gun to glue on paint and draw a picture, just as science and art are one; Lanzhou University's activity was to put plasmids made of paper into transparent balloons and then embellish the balloons. The scene was once lively, just from the Hangzhou activity area, our raw materials candy replenished twice, our team members looked at the little potty making a more than a fine model, a more than a more brilliant smile, our team members are also full of achievement; SZ-SHD team pipette gun painting everyone is more competitive, did not expect the original basic instruments in the laboratory, through this official activity into the millions of homes The plasmid fragment used by Lanzhou University was very close to synthetic biology, and the youngsters gathered around the lady in charge of the Lanzhou University area and scrambled to be the first, which was a very active scene.
The activity lasted for three and a half hours, from which each participant gained a lot of knowledge and valuable experience, and also made each participant appreciate the importance of environmental protection and the mystery of synthetic biology, which provided valuable reference for our next offline activities and project planning in the future.




6 Workshop in biology training camp

In the morning of July 21st, we explained our project to the students in the biological camp in the conference room. From our background investigation, experimental prospect, experimental process to the practical significance of the experimental results. Students from the Biological Camp also had a preliminary understanding of our project, and also realized the high incidence of intestinal cancer and the inadequacy of current treatment effect. I believe they also feel the significance and importance of this project.



7 Gut alliance: online lecture


On August 14, six teams of the Intestinal Alliance held an online lecture together. At this event, we invited three experts as guest lecturers: Lan Canhui from the Warm Heart Institute of Biotechnology, Wei Daixu from the Department of Life Sciences and Medicine of Northwestern University, and Dong Xiaojuan from the Fifth People's Hospital of Shaanxi Province.


All teams aimed to focus on public gut health from the perspective of university and high school students and to make people more familiar with the gut by popularizing various topics related to gut microbes. For example, members of our team introduced the association between sugar substitutes and gut microbiota, gave a detailed and professional introduction to sugar substitutes and their disadvantages, and warned people about the significance of drinking less low-sugar drinks containing aspartame.


As a co-organizer of the event, a representative from our team gave a presentation on the relationship between sugar substitutes and gut microbiota. In addition, we were responsible for organizing the presentation topics for each team and creating brochures after the keynote presentations.


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