Toxins produced by blue-green algae are a recurring problem in Finnish water systems every summer. When present in large quantities as blooms, cyanotoxins pose a significant health threat to humans and animals. The goal of our project is to sense the most common cyanobacterial toxins and degrade them by producing a cyanotoxin-degrading enzyme with genetically modified yeast.
The final product of our project would be a kit containing a sensor device and a degradation capsule. The sensor would indicate the presence of harmful toxins in the sample and the capsule could then be used to detoxify water as needed. This kit would enable the safe use of lake water as sauna, shower or animal drinking water.
The broader purpose of our project is to promote and increase understanding of synthetic biology in Finland and around the world. Synthetic biology is a new field of science and technology that combines biology with engineering. The basic principle is to design new genes, genetic devices, metabolic routes and entire organisms to create novel products and production pathways.
The concept of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is often presented with caution in the media. We are working responsibly and ethically to try and change the negative image created by GMOs. One of our main considerations is for our solutions to be safe also outside laboratory settings.