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Welcome to AptaVita newsletter!

Welcome to our very first newsletter. A bit further delayed due to getting covid myself, but we are finally here!

A quick recap for you from the past few months: In February, the 10 of us were chosen to be part of the iGEM 2021 team. We were all really excited, and trying to get to know each other whilst it all being online. We did sometimes work in duos at someone’s place, as that was still allowed. So we also know each other’s households now ;). After a few weeks, we heard that there was someone new interested in joining, which first seemed impossible due to logistics. We pushed it a little, and now we’re real glad to have Fede on our team! Outside of team building, we’ve had endless brainstorms about the topic. And slowly but slowly… It became more clear what we were going to do.

It started with a paper recently written, where they talk about a new way to create biosensors. More specifically, they found a way to find RNAs that can bind to different substances. These RNAs are called aptamers. And the great part is that you can choose a substance, and then find an RNA based on that substance!

So which substance did we choose? You probably already heard about it, but it’s ✨vitamins✨. We’ve considered a lot of other things, for example, molecules that indicate cancer. However, this was never done before and obviously, we also wanted to focus on something that can really happen. And that turned out to be vitamins!

The more we got into it, the more excited we got about vitamins. We started to truly understand their importance, and especially the hurt deficiencies can do in developing countries. Intrigued by this, we also decided to mainly focus on the developing countries.

And with the topic, we also started to divide the team roles! This was actually a pretty smooth process. Everyone had already unofficially found their position, and now we just had to name tag it. There were some difficulties, like how we had nobody specifically interested in Finance/Sponsorship. Well… Pim sacrificed himself for the team, but he is absolutely thriving now as our money bird!

With our new team roles, things really started taking shape. The whole concept behind our project has really developed into something concrete. Laura & her wet lab team ordered all materials, got lab training, and are currently running the experiments. Boyd & his dry lab team are working on models, programs & analysis. They also work on the paper-based chip (yes, we are trying to let it all work on just a piece of paper!) – and got the first ones printed & working. Miriam & her Human Practices team have had toooons of interviews, every single one adding new insights into our project and its impact on society. Milou & her Outreach/PR team have started the education & social media part. And not to forget, Pim & his sponsorship team have really kicked it off – calling companies every Wednesday and getting the last sponsorships in.

In the past few weeks, also an Entrepreneurship team has formed, led by our Strategy Manager Loulotte. Koen is fully integrated into the team and developing our Hardware with the Dry Lab team. Fede created a house style and brand around “AptaVita”, which is, as you hopefully agree with, really aesthetically pleasing! And Riko is kicking it with the Wiki, as this is becoming more and more important…

With all those great things happening, we’ve also had to face the first difficulties. These include the lab closing for 2 weeks, not getting some sponsorships we had counted on, still not seeing each other on a daily basis, several quarantines, and the first team frictions & frustrations. But these are all part of our learning experience. And at the same time, the team is having a great time together, from Loulotte’s chicken sounds, Minke “being hot” to Fede’s amazing tacos. Looking forward to showing you more of our journey!

The iGEM TU Delft 2021 Team Milou, Fede, Mathijs, Miriam, Laura, Loulotte, Pim, Boyd, Minke, Riko, and Koen

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