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Battling against obesity

Wiki coming soon...

Project Overview

Obesity is a growing problem in today’s society. We plan to use Synthetic Biology to engineer a novel treatment for obesity: engineering E. coli into a “sugar sponge” that will absorb excess carbohydrates, before they can be taken up in the human intestines.

In addition to reducing the caloric load, future modifications to the bacteria may allow the use of the sequestered monosaccharides to produce useful products such as bacterial cellulose, thus providing supplementary dietary fibre with additional health benefits.

Our engineered bacteria will be of use to obese people who have tried dietary approaches to weight loss and failed to see results. It may also be of use to patients who need to lose weight before surgery. Our project explored two ways of delivering the bacteria: they can either be taken in the form of a pill or in a probiotic yoghurt drink. We carried out a series of surveys to determine consumer preferences and attitudes that would determine the best delivery format.

At the same time, we collected data on public opinion regarding body weight, weight control, and our project, including attitudes on synthetic biology and genetic modification, which informed our in-depth analysis of obesity and its treatment from the perspective of social scientists. The resulting sociological insights not only directed the genetic engineering strategies within our project, but also provided general guidelines on how to improve the communication of Synthetic Biology approaches in the context of complex biological, medical and social problems.

Meet The Team



Greta is in her 2nd year studying BSc Biotechnology.
Her role in the project is doing the lab work and modelling.
In her free time she enjoys travelling and salsa dancing.



Catherine is in her final year studyinng BSc Sociology and she is working on the Human Practices side of the project.
She really enjoys traveling; whenever time and money allows!



Issy is in her first year studying Neuroscience and her role in the team is carrying out the experiments.
In her spare time, she likes watching films, skydiving, cooking and botany



James is in his final year studying BSc Biomedical Science and is working with Izzy to carry out the experiments.
Besides doing sciencey stuff he enjoys having loooong (not that long) walks on the beach.


Siddharth Shekar

Sid is in his 1st year doing the B.Soc.Sc. Sociology course.
He is working side by side with Catherine on the Human Practices aspect of it.
Currently Sid is the captain of the University athletics Team, and his main event is 110m hurdles. He enjoys history, movies, travelling and having fun (all sorts).



Taf is in his 2nd year studying Computer Science and Maths and his role is developing the wiki pages. He loves his food and sleep. Besides that, he likes playing video games, playing football, dancing and doing pencil sketches.



Eriko is Professor of Synthetic Biology at the University of Manchester, where she develops a wide range of tools for synthetic biology,
with a special interest in high-value fine chemicals and bioactive secondary metabolites.



Rainer is Professor of Systems Biology at the University of Manchester and is interested in the
development of computational methods to assist the synthetic biology design and debugging processes.

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