iGEM or ‘the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition’ is a worldwide undergraduate Synthetic Biology competition. Each team is “given a kit of biological parts at the beginning of the summer from the Registry of Standard Biological Parts. Working at their own schools over the summer, they use these parts and new parts of their own design to build biological systems and operate them in living cells.” (http://igem.org/About)
Quanticare is a project developed in partnership between Amy Congdon, who acted as project facilitator and designers Ann-Kristin Abel and Jenny Lee, and the 2012 NRP-UEA iGEM team, with the aim of exploring the ethical implications of Synthetic Biology. The collaboration allowed the students to think about the wider context of their lab work and allowed the designers to explore what potential new materials and techniques they could be using in the future. The resulting film explores the potential future uses of the science the iGEM team have been working with, namely that of Nitric Oxide sensing. The team worked throughout the summer on developing a new method of quantitative computing using bacterial sensors, which has implications for cancer detection and treatment. The film presents a future with highly sensitive disease monitoring and personalised healthcare provided by the imagined company ‘Quanticare’. The intention of the project was to explore the implications of this technology by presenting viewers with a way in which it may impact on their lives.