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Synthetic Biology underpins advances in the bioeconomy

Biological systems - including the simplest cells - exhibit a broad range of functions to thrive in their environment. Research in the Imperial College Centre for Synthetic Biology is focused on the possibility of engineering the underlying biochemical processes to solve many of the challenges facing society, from healthcare to sustainable energy. In particular, we model, analyse, design and build biological and biochemical systems in living cells and/or in cell extracts, both exploring and enhancing the engineering potential of biology. 

As part of our research we develop novel methods to accelerate the celebrated Design-Build-Test-Learn synthetic biology cycle. As such research in the Centre for Synthetic Biology highly multi- and interdisciplinary covering computational modelling and machine learning approaches; automated platform development and genetic circuit engineering ; multi-cellular and multi-organismal interactions, including gene drive and genome engineering; metabolic engineering; in vitro/cell-free synthetic biology; engineered phages and directed evolution; and biomimetics, biomaterials and biological engineering.



BibTex format

author = {Habtewold, T and Tapanelli, S and Ellen, KG M and Astrid, H and Nikolai, W and George, K C},
doi = {10.1186/s12936-019-2663-8},
journal = {Malaria Journal},
title = {Streamlined SMFA and mosquito dark-feeding regime significantly improve malaria transmission-blocking assay robustness and sensitivity},
url = {},
volume = {18},
year = {2019}

RIS format (EndNote, RefMan)

AB - BackgroundThe development of malaria transmission-blocking strategies including the generation of malaria refractory mosquitoes to replace the wild populations through means of gene drives hold great promise. The standard membrane feeding assay (SMFA) that involves mosquito feeding on parasitized blood through an artificial membrane system is a vital tool for evaluating the efficacy of transmission-blocking interventions. However, despite the availability of several published protocols, the SMFA remains highly variable and broadly insensitive.MethodsThe SMFA protocol was optimized through coordinated culturing of Anopheles coluzzii mosquitoes and Plasmodium falciparum parasite coupled with placing mosquitoes under a strict dark regime before, during, and after the gametocyte feed.ResultsA detailed description of essential steps is provided toward synchronized generation of highly fit An. coluzzii mosquitoes and P. falciparum gametocytes in preparation for an SMFA. A dark-infection regime that emulates the natural vector-parasite interaction system is described, which results in a significant increase in the infection intensity and prevalence. Using this optimal SMFA pipeline, a series of putative transmission-blocking antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) were screened, confirming that melittin and magainin can interfere with P. falciparum development in the vector.ConclusionA robust SMFA protocol that enhances the evaluation of interventions targeting human malaria transmission in laboratory setting is reported. Melittin and magainin are identified as highly potent antiparasitic AMPs that can be used for the generation of refractory Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes.
AU - Habtewold,T
AU - Tapanelli,S
AU - Ellen,KG M
AU - Astrid,H
AU - Nikolai,W
AU - George,K C
DO - 10.1186/s12936-019-2663-8
PY - 2019///
SN - 1475-2875
TI - Streamlined SMFA and mosquito dark-feeding regime significantly improve malaria transmission-blocking assay robustness and sensitivity
T2 - Malaria Journal
UR -
UR -
VL - 18
ER -