Team:UCL/Modeling

From 2013.igem.org

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<p class="major_title">RELATED NEUROSCIENCE</p>
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<p class="major_title">NEURO-GENETHICS</p>
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<p class="minor_title">Neuroethical Issues In Synthetic Biology</p>
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<p class="minor_title">Neuro-genetic engineering</p>
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Our project this year blends the fields of synthetic biology and neuroscience. We aim to demonstrate that genetic engineering techniques can be applied to the central nervous system, in order to rectify abnormalities in, for example, the brain on a cellular and/or macromolecular level. Such a novel application of synthetic biology could offer new ways to treat certain brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, for which modern pharmaceutical treatment is purely symptomatic.<br><br>
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Over the last decade there has been mounting public interest in genetic engineering and the potential and pitfalls of associated emerging technologies. These technologies promise much, potentially even treatments for brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, and yet genetic modification of the brain is something many would feel uneasy about, despite the horrors it tries to mitigate. 'Neuro-genetic engineering' may slip over into other areas, including psychological therapy and cognitive enhancements, changing the way society views its minds forever.<br><br>
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An emotional piece of interactive art, this is a treacherous repository for users’ most precious memories, which highlights the cost of losing them.
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Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent form of dementia. Symptoms include memory loss, mood fluctuations and problems with communication and reasoning. It is a physical, degenerative condition that causes cell death in the brain.
 
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Fiction and science can synergise into something altogether much more provocative, and so we ran a creative writing competition to let writers loose on the rich themes of our Human Practices.
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<p class="abstract_title">Neuroethics Report</p>
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The brain is the the part of us that makes oneself one’s self. As such there are misgivings towards infringing on its natural sovereignty. We investigate the murky ethics surrounding various applications, from medicine to the enhancements.
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<p class="abstract_text">There are many hypotheses on the causes for Alzheimer’s disease, though there are three accepted signs in the brain: plaques, tangles and cell death. We focus on the so called ‘Amyloid Hypothesis’.
 
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In order to effectively collate our thoughts, those of the public and those of proefessionals on the issues raised in our ethics report, we conducted a series of interviews and exhibited our ideas on camera.
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We wanted to get to grips with the public upfront with our ideas on what the fusion between neuroscience and synthetic biology could become, starting with basic attitudes to both, and with special focus on Alzheimer’s disease.
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We examine the economic, social and medical feasibility of our proposed treatment, looking at resource allocation, the cost of research for Alzheimer's and the cost-benefit of spending on the ageing population.
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We conducted an online survey in order to gauge public opinion on various issues that comprise not only our project, but what our project could lead to.
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<p class="abstract_text">Microglia are the resident, mobile immune cells in the brain, performing many of the same roles as one’s white blood cells. In our project, we try to use microglia as a chassis for our genetic circuit.
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In order to test the waters for our Speed Debate, we opened discussion on the ‘neuro-genethics’ surrounding our project on TED Conversations.
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Revision as of 13:34, 5 September 2013

NEURO-GENETHICS

Neuroethical Issues In Synthetic Biology

Over the last decade there has been mounting public interest in genetic engineering and the potential and pitfalls of associated emerging technologies. These technologies promise much, potentially even treatments for brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, and yet genetic modification of the brain is something many would feel uneasy about, despite the horrors it tries to mitigate. 'Neuro-genetic engineering' may slip over into other areas, including psychological therapy and cognitive enhancements, changing the way society views its minds forever.

Click the abstracts below to read more.