3rd MYCOSYNVAC CONSORTIUM MEETING
On the 11th and 12th of June, MycoSynVac partners gathered in Barcelona to celebrate the 3rd consortium meeting of the project. The event was organised by the CRG at the PRBB (Barcelona Biomedical Research Park) and Maria Lluch-Senar and Luis Serrano welcomed all participants with a general overview of the project’s evolution. Since its start in April 2015, important progresses have been made: we now have a better knowledge of Mycoplasma biology and we also have new technologies to genetically modify these organisms.
This meeting was especially important as the project is entering its very last year. In those two days of meeting, four years of work was discussed and priorities to successfully complete the project were defined.
All different partners presented their contribution to the project: Erika Gaspari (WUR) and Tjerko Kamminga (MSD) showed the progress made in developing new methods to model Mycoplasma metabolism in silico and to culture this organism at a large scale, respectively. Alicia Broto (Imperial College) and Luis Garcia Morales (INRA) explained their work on the genetic engineering of Mycoplasma: to first introduce a biosafety circuit and to then improve genetic transformation of these organisms. Finally, Maria Lluch-Senar (CRG) announced that different versions of the non-pathogenic Mycoplasma chassis have been validated in vivo. Those results are promising steps forward for developing a Mycoplasma-based vaccine at industrial level.
An important consideration for the project is that all developed MycoSynVac products are safe and well accepted by the general public before being commercialized. Therefore, Risk assessment and dissemination is an inherent part of the project. During the event, Peter Sandøe and Rasmus Mikkelsen from the University of Copenhagen organised a very interesting ethics workshop to make participants think on how to handle and respond to society’s concerns. Moreover, Isabel Prade, Hayriye Ege Kökel and Markus Schmidt from Biofaction revealed the very first images of the ‘Battle for Cattle’ video game that will permit the general public to learn more about the project in a fun way.
THE B∙DEBATE ON SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY
The very next day, another MycoSynVac related event happened at the Cosmo Caixa of Barcelona: The B·Debate on Synthetic Biology.
A B·Debate is a wonderful initiative where different actors of a particular scientific community gather in one place to share recent scientific development, discuss the latest hot topics and also face the opinion and ethical concerns raised by the general public. This debate has been co-organized by the CRG and the UPF and aimed at discussing the possible medical application that could offer gene-editing technologies.
During the event, very interesting topic have been discussed, such as:
• Direct modulation of the skin microbiome as potential therapy for Acne vulgaris (Bernhard Paetzold, S-Biomedic, Barcelona).
• Terraforming the planet: Using synthetic biology to avoid ecological tipping points (Ricard Solé, Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona).
• Synthetic biology for human therapy: CAR T-cells against tumors (Manel Juan Otero, Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, Barcelona)
Our capacity to manufacture and/or modify the genomes of living organisms has increased enormously, and this advancement is impacting science and soon society. Indeed, Synthetic Biology could help to create new sustainable energies, improve food production, produce new biomaterials, and permit to develop novel therapies.