Self-repair (work in progress)
Laboratory. 2017
n number of participants

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The interactive installation invites audience to consider questions in 
relation to modified living organisms. Three contexts are proposed: Gene 
editing, GMO, and Synthetic biology. In each context audience is invited 
to evaluate the proposed contexts: "agree," "do not agree," and 
"neutral." The evaluation is done by sticking the provided stickers on 
the wall. Further comments might be added on the provided stickers.

Context #1. Gene editing
Inherited information is constructed from functional units, called 
genes. Genes define every feature of a certain organism. Different gene 
variants predispose trait-variety. Gene mutations are often the cause of 
many diseases such as type I diabetes or cancer. Scientists can fix 
genes by altering their sequence and correcting mutations. Recently, 
human embryo genome was also successfully edited. This could not only 
help to treat currently incurable congenital diseases, but also give a 
spur for the creation of superior humans.

Context #2. GMO
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are created by means of gene 
engineering. Genetic code of naturally existing organisms is changed to 
provide them with new qualities such as higher productivity or lower 
susceptibility for diseases. GMOs are used in scientific research, 
pharmacy, food production. Wide application of GMOs raises many concerns 
of biosafety that aim to draw attention to the risk of GMOs spreading in 
the nature.

Context #3. Synthetic biology
Synthetic biology applies methods of gene engineering to enhance or 
create a whole new biological system and to use it for the means of 
mankind. It could be microorganisms that store digital information or 
detect and clean environmental spoilage. Synthetic biology allows to 
exceed the limits of current biology and imagination, when creating 
organisms, that were probably never meant to appear in the course of 
natural evolution.

SynORI - a framework for multi-plasmid systems
The series of drawings introduce the Vilnius-Lithuania iGEM 2017 team's 
process of developing a SynORI - synthetic origin of replication. Under 
the same name the team has created a framework which, for the first time 
in science history, enables the alteration of plasmid copy number and 
standardized regulation of multi-plasmid systems. SynORI incorporates a 
subsystem for reducing the amount of antibiotics needed to maintain 
multiple plasmids in one cell, and will enable the creation of more 
complex metabolic pathways, smart assembly of protein complexes and a 
more precise information processing in synthetic biology.

The lab
Visitors personally experience the process of scientific experiment and 
daily life in the laboratory by interacting with auditory exhibits. 
Laboratory surroundings are full of motion and… music. Indeed, what 
scientists hear daily is a composition of high pitched tones of the 
smallest equipment and low basses of large machines all of what merges 
into exceptional lab-tunes. These tunes will allow to create new 
associations with the scientist and his/her every day routine.

How I prepare myself to be cloned
The toolkit dives into the very nature of the organism, which, 
throughout its life cycle, demonstrates the ability to self-replicate. 
Referring to mythological hybrids like Pegasus, centaurs, mermaids, or 
minotaurs, the presented within the toolkit workshops explain the basics 
of synthetic biology and transgenic organisms. The toolkit includes 
tools for the analysis of DNA with the provided DIY electrophoresis 
chamber and the multiplication of DNA with the provided polymerase chain 
reaction (PCR) machine.

Lichen biohacking: revealing the secrets of the forgotten part of the 
forgotten kingdom
Workshop led by Technarium team: Eglė Marija Ramanauskaitė and Simona 
Bekeraitė aka Opit

Lichens are great symbiotic organisms, able to survive the most hostile 
conditions and forming the basis of the ecosystems in which other 
organisms are unable to grow. Lichens grow very slowly; some of their 
species are known as one of the oldest organisms on Earth. 
Unfortunately, lichens are yet largely understudied by scientists and 
misunderstood by the public. Molecular features of lichens are of 
particular importance due to their specific growing conditions and the 
variety of species - what mechanisms and materials influence lichen 
"longevity"? Can we use such mechanisms for ourselves, for example, 
solving the crisis of antibiotics. During this lichen biohacking 
workshop different types of DNA will be analysed aiming to uncover this 
underestimated source of useful information.

How scientists employ bacteria to make them perform desired functions?
Workshop led by Vilnius-Lithuania iGEM: Gabrielius Jakutis, Miglė 
Kalvaitytė, Emilija Vasiliūnaitė

Transformation is one of the main methods in biotechnology, used to 
genetically modify microorganisms. During transformation, small circular 
DNA molecules, called plasmids, are incorporated into microorganisms, 
and genes, that programme new functions, are expressed to turn cells 
into micro-factories. Thus bacteria can produce products that humans 
need: from insulin to treat diabetes, to various enzymes, that 
supplement washing powder for stain removal.

This workshop, organized by Vilnius-Lithuania iGEM 2017 team, will show 
the main steps in enzyme-production - from identifying enzymatic 
activity in nature, to transforming the Escherichia coli bacteria and 
testing purified enzyme activity. Vilnius-Lithuania iGEM 2017 team will 
also help to find answers for questions such as how did the scientists 
"domesticate" microorganisms, what new tricks did they teach them and 
what biotechnological advances await us in the future?

Cut your (short) hair yourself!
Workshop led by Eglė

You have short hair, a clipper and at least 2 mirrors? This workshop is 
exactly for you! You will learn to cut hair using 3 different clipper 
numbers and to make a contouring line. Bring a clipper and a smaller, 
palm size mirror with you. The door is also open for those who prefer 
taking a passive part. No clipper? Drop a note and we will try to find one.