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Revision as of 01:50, 21 October 2009

A Synthetic Approach to Treating Allergic Rhinitis: Engineering Staphyloccocus Epidermidis to Secrete High-Affinity Histamine Binding Protein in Response to Elevated Levels of Histamine due to an Allergic Attack

Project Abstract

Brown University’s 2009 iGEM Team presents an exciting new approach to treating nasal allergies through Allergene: a synthetically engineered, self-regulating drug factory in the nose. This revolutionary new product provides a much-needed alternative to current antihistamines by directly sequestering the histamine released in an allergic response. Such a method effectively eliminates both the symptoms of an allergy and the negative side effects that plague their currently available clinical treatments.

Rather than presenting a system that passively sequesters histamine; however, Allergene goes one step further to providing patients with much-needed allergy relief. Activation of the product only occurs in the explicit event of an actual allergic response. Through a remarkable ability to detect subtle changes in extra-cellular histamine, Allergene’s unique histamine sequestering system is engineered to function only when histamine levels are markedly high. This efficiently timed system is therefore completely self-regulating.

Allergene is introduced to its host patients by capitalizing on the endogenous existence of bacterium Staphylococcus epidermidis in human nasal flora. This naturally present organism is the perfect vehicle for delivery; its rapid production and secretion of Allergene’s genetic constructs effectively implement the system’s histamine sensing and sequestering capabilities in human hosts. In order to eliminate any safety concerns associated with the utilization of S. epidermidis in human hosts, special care has additionally been taken to engineer the product’s accessory kill switch mechanism. Named the “Quorum Sensor”, this thoughtful, additional feature prompts Allergene’s swift response in the unfavorable event of over-cell-proliferation.