Open Source Fermentation Process for Steroid Hormones - iGEM Vienna Collaboration Proposal
Hey BwoB Community!
My name is Thomas Alexander, an Austrian-American Master's student studying Biotech Engineering in Vienna.
I had a recent conversation with Danny after I posted in the Friendzymes discord that our 2023 iGEM project is looking for global collaborators to host our project after Oct 2023.
What is our story?
While exploring opportunities in yeast bio-manufacturing, we discovered that native yeast sterols (ergosterol) can be converted to animal sterols (cholesterol) without affecting the viability of the yeast cell walls.
We further discovered that yeast are capable of modifying those sterols into steroid/sex hormones, an incredibly important class of drugs containing Pregnalone, Progesterone, Testosterone, and Estrogens.
These drugs have tremendous impact on the quality of life of a variety of patient groups: (Hypogonadic/Low T/Aging Men, Menopausal women, Patients managing Diabetes/Obesity/HIV/Other chronic illnesses, and those seeking gender affirming care)
Testosterone, our case study molecule, is a generic drug however and is currently experiencing shortages as combinations of increasing demand and the decreased profitability of generic drugs for Big Pharma.
What is our Project?
As several of the major patents on this process have recently lapsed, we would like to step in an produce an open-source protocol for fermentation of steroids in yeast, that would allow those that rely on these hormones to own the means of production.
Basing our efforts on the combination research/advocacy efforts of the OpenInsulin Foundation, our project is currently dubbed "Horm-OWN"
What can BwoB do? What can we do for BwoB?
We would like to partner with BwoB to start the conversation around this opportunity on a global scale. We see this research as a new tool to improve access to this important (and contentious) class of drugs, and do not claim to fully know how various global stakeholders could make use of it.
So much needs to be done to determine the potential impact, implications, and immobilizers of this project, but there are opportunities implicit in the inquiry itself.
Steroid hormones are a major issue that drives attention and providing an outlet for inquisitive and highly incentivized biohackers to move the needle on this issue could drive interest in BwoB and serve as harm reduction for those who may seek to copy our research for personal experimentation.
Discussion, Next Steps, and a **Point of Caution.
So what does the community do now?
We would like to hear from you about your perspective on the vision of this project, it's feasibility, the potential for partnerships, and/or just the overall vibe of the project.
How do you think this project fits in with the current plans for the BwoB community?
Would you be interested in contributing
to the research (wetlab, drylab, modeling, etc.)
or the protocol (patent analysis, supply chain analysis, open sourcing details, etc.)
or the infrastructure (fundraising, media, financial hosting details, etc.)
**Point of Caution: It should be highlighted that Testosterone, or current case study, is a Category III controlled substance in the US and therefore special precautions may need to be taken when working with this research. If you have any insight into what they are, please share your knowledge in the discussion below!