Synthetic Biology for Engineered Live Therapeutics

October 9, 2020


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Target Audience

Des Moines University faculty, staff, and students.


The population dynamics of the human microbiome correlate with a wide variety of human disease states. As engineers, the question we ask is “How can we manipulate the microbiome to improve human health?” The Mansell lab approach to this question uses the toolbox of synthetic biology to engineer prebiotics, probiotics, and targeted antibiotics to shape the human microbiome. First, we have developed high-throughput screens for synthesis of human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), a set of prebiotic carbohydrates that control the microbiome of the infant gut. We have also engineered the well-known probiotic strain E. coli Nissle to metabolize HMOs and used this metabolism to control population dynamics and protein expression. We are now testing the proliferation of these engineered probiotics in mice and in small intestinal organoids.

Learning Objectives

  • Recognize the relationship between prebiotics and the population dynamics of gut bacteria.
  • Consider the advantages and disadvantages of the use of organoids as a model system for host-microbe interactions
Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 1.00 CE Contact Hour(s)
Course opens: 
Course expires: 
Event starts: 
10/09/2020 - 12:00pm CDT
Event ends: 
10/09/2020 - 1:00pm CDT

Thomas J. Mansell, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering, Iowa State University


Available Credit

  • 1.00 CE Contact Hour(s)


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