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Project Summary

The title of our project: ViroCatcher

  • The Fact: Although traditional medical treatments for viral diseases usually have a high specificity, the treatments will likely fail to cure diseases once viruses mutate.
  • Our Motivation: Is there any chance to create an universal solution to fight against viral diseases?
  • Our Strategy: Fight inconsistency with consistency. Counter changing viruses with specific binding.
  • Our Objective: Use engineered bacteria which are safe for the bloodstream to bind and remove many kinds of viruses.
  • Our Method: Design bacteria that can catch viruses using constant binding regions between viruses and viral receptors/specific anti-viral antibodies.


Interactions with other iGEM teams:

  • Video meetings with iGEM team of Kyoto University
  • Video meeting with iGEM team of Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology
  • Team visit with iGEM members of Chiba University and Tokyo University
  • Provided our iGEM parts to Dr. Mathilde Lescat of INSERM, Paris, France
  • Provided iGEM parts to iGEM team of Tzu-Chi University
  • Participated in the iGEM survey of Valencia team
  • Participated in the iGEM survey of TUDelft team


  • Designed and Built more than 30 new standard Biobricks
  • Obtained human cDNA clones of CD4, CCR5,αv integrin, CAR receptor
  • Characterized the Promoters in the Biobrick
  • Verified the function of our oscillator
  • Cloned the gene of anchoring protein C_IGAP
  • Cloned targeted viral proteins for Biobricks and validated
  • Designed and synthesized scFV specific antibody


Here we detail how we approached any issues of biological safety associated with our projects.

Specifically, the following four questions were considered:

  1. Would any of our project ideas raise safety issues in terms of:
    • researcher safety,
    • public safety, or
    • environmental safety?
  2. Is there a local biosafety group, committee, or review board at our institution?
  3. What does our local biosafety group think about our project?
  4. Do any of the new BioBrick parts that we made this year raise any safety issues?
    • If yes, did we document these issues in the Registry?

Our answers to these four questions:

  1. For iGEM 2009 project, our goal is to design and engineer bacteria (called "ViroCatcher") to bind and remove many kinds of viruses. However, due to potential safety issues of using viral particles in our experiments, we only used viral proteins in our experiments to prove the concept. Although these viral proteins we used are viral capsid proteins for binding to huamn cellular receptors, they are neither toxic nor pathogenic by themselves. These viral capsid proteins or even viral paticles are not able to replicate in the bacterial chassis we used for making ViroCatcher. Therefore, they should not raise safety issues in terms of:
    • researcher safety,
    • public safety, or
    • environmental safety.
  2. At NYMU, we do have a biosafety committee to review all biosafety and biosecurity issues at our university.
  3. We had presented our ViroCatcher project to many of our school professors including many of the members of our biosafety committee. Since we were not using viral particles or viral vectors in any of our experiments, they did not think the use of viral capsid proteins in our project would raise any biosafety issues.
  4. None of the new BioBrick parts that we made this year raise any safety issues. Since we are not authorized to give out those gene clones of viral capsid proteins, all those clones are not shipped as new BioBrick parts at this time.

We also documented all our answers to these safety questions in our presentation, wiki presentation, and poster.