Quote of the week: “Research till you drop” 

We had a more theoretical week. We continued to work on the topic of system thinking. We noticed further connections between environment and our product. For example, the influence of climate change and the associated shift in climate zones and thus in pathogens. Due to our global immune system, we think that this shift causes fewer problems than it would without our development.
After the presentation of our three-part system-thinking map, we turned our thoughts to the topic of behavioural change. It quickly became clear that we should not put too much energy into this phase with our topic. Our product idea is convincing enough. Nevertheless, we have gained some insights that could accelerate the introduction of our product. People strive for happiness and they come closer to it through recognition. We have decided to give our patients the opportunity to visualize the improvements they bring to the world through ComImmunity and to create a sense of community. Another idea is to reward them with a social donation. For example the construction of a hospital after a certain number of successfully cured patients. A progress bar could inform the members how much good they are doing in the world.

This week also our first expert interview takes place with Dr. Rudolf, a lecturer from the Department of Biosensors at Mannheim University of Applied Sciences. For this reason, we have spent the last week intensively preparing for this interview. On the one hand, the question of how pathogenesis and antibodies are currently being detected in research, but also how to analyse them best. We hope to find a laboratory technique that we can incorporate into our product. During our research we came across the lateral flow test, among other things. Here, the sample to be analysed is applied to the sample area on a test strip made of porous paper or sintered polymer. After adding the running agent, the sample begins to spread over the test strip due to capillary forces (thin layer chromatography). The sample migrates with the liquid to an area containing dried immunoconjugates with salts and carbohydrates. The liquid dissolves the immunoconjugate, allowing it to bind to the molecules (the antigen) to be detected in the sample, if present. The liquid migrates further into the capillary region, where an antibody has been immobilized in a small section, which binds to another site on the surface of the molecule to be detected, thereby binding and accumulating the molecule in this region as the liquid continues to migrate. The enrichment of the molecule to be detected results in e.g. staining, fluorescence staining or magnetic labelling of the bound immunoconjugate, depending on the immunoconjugate. In most cases, a second test strip is available as a negative control without sample to exclude false-positive results.

What we also found out is that most methods of antibody detection are done by adding, for example, fluorinating agents. The test procedure requires a conventional blood draw from the vein. A known antigen is chemically coupled to a carrier surface. The unknown test antibodies (e.g. allergy antibodies to be detected in the patient’s blood serum) are incubated with this carrier, i.e. the carrier is placed in the blood serum for a certain time. In the positive case, a binding between the antigen and the antibody to be detected occurs. In the negative case a binding does not occur. Subsequently, “labelled antibodies” are added. These now recognise whether a binding has taken place in the first step (positive reaction) or not (negative test). Most test procedures use labelled antibodies loaded with a fluorescent substance or an enzyme. If the reaction is positive, a light or colour reaction will occur. The strength of the reaction is measured with fine instruments and corresponds to the amount of antibodies in the blood sample. Then a total IgE value can be determined. Our questions to the expert therefore include:
Are there methods to detect antibodies and pathogens without the addition of drugs? We are mainly focusing on non-optical methods. We also need to clarify which signaling pathway is used in the body to produce the antibodies, because we still have a few questions about this, too.

In addition, through Kirstin we learned about an impressive man from the USA. Jacob Glanville, Founding Partner and Chief Executive Officer of Distributed Bio. He has developed some incredibly interesting libraries on antibodies and pathogens in his company, which could be of great benefit to us. We hope to be able to interview him, or someone else involved in the process. THANK YOU KIRSTIN!!!