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IGEM: Intelligently Genetically Engineered Microglia

Our ambitious project concerns bringing synthetic biology to the brain in order to try a novel approach to tackling Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). Microglia are mobile brain cells, making them an ideal chassis. To do this, our proposed treatment would involve extracting microglia from a patient, or using a specially bred immortalised line of human microglia, to avoid rejection, and transfecting it with our new genetic circuit. Implantation into the brain could be performed surgically or using a viral vector - but in order to better control the numbers of genetically engineered microglia (GEM) in the brain micro-neurosurgery may prove best. Our circuit is designed to detect detect amyloid plaques, attract other microglia, degrade the plaques, reduce neuroinflammation and support dying neurons. Theoretically, this should halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and could lead to other forms of neuro-genetic engineering.