iGEM: An Alternative Birth Control Method
“This project could potentially revolutionize current female contraceptives because the success of our project will contribute towards the creation of a long-lasting, non-hormonal, reversible contraceptive in women.” -Kelly Xu '21, Co-President
“iGEM continues to grow undergraduates’ interest in the up-and-coming field of synthetic biology. iGEM not only teaches students biology, but also important life lessons--leadership, teamwork, and communication.” -Veronica Ng '21, Co-President
The goal for our 2019 iGEM research initiative is to create an alternative birth control in the form of a contraceptive vaccine. Birth control has helped advance the success of women in the workplace, allowing them to invest in their careers and plan for their futures by choosing when to get pregnant. However, birth control can be difficult to access—it is estimated that approximated forty percent of all pregnancies are unintended (Sedgh, Singh, & Hussain, 2016).
Our project hopes to create a long-acting reversible contraceptive vaccine that blocks fertility in the human female. The calcium channel of sperm (CatSper) is vital for sperm motility and fertility. We plan to use E.coli as a chassis for expressing an antigen with the CatSper gene embedded. This antigen could cause an immune response within the human body leading to the formation of antibodies against CatSper. This vaccine potentially provides cheap, non-hormonal, non-surgical, and long-lasting birth control that can be simply reversed through intravenous antigenic overloading. The project offers insight into the potential for synthetic biology as an important medical tool in the future.
What You're Supporting
By supporting the iGEM at RPI, you’ll help foster an inspiring new generation of innovative, hard-working scientists. At iGEM, we grow not only as scientists, but as people. Throughout the development of our project, students can acquire valuable research skills, lab experience, and develop important partnerships with professors, as well as the personal skills of initiative, diligence, and communication. Our 2019 team consists of almost entirely new members, allowing us to revitalize our image at RPI and create a bolder image for ourselves within the global synthetic biology community. In addition, we are a Union-funded club, and hope to foster school pride and awareness in the RPI scientific community.
Who We Are
iGEM is an open-source, non-profit community that shares and improves upon projects from teams all around the world, fostering the progress of scientific academia and international collaboration. For more information, head to our Facebook Page!