Initially, our synthetic biology team chose the domain of prosthetic technology for our project. A workshop with our mentors helped our team to transition from this field to investigating the production of rayon, a textile that has been proven to aid the body in healing from skin grafts, among other uses.
Rayon is made from cellulose, a natural component of many proteins, and goes through a treatment process with extreme environmental and health impacts. In particular, the transformation of raw cellulose to cellulose xanthate (Xanthation) uses the carcinogenic chemical carbon disulfide.
Currently, we are researching the possibility of a biological alternative for this step to reduce the use of carbon disulfide. To find a viable, safer alternative, we are considering engineering cells to produce enzymes, such as cellulases, capable of refining the cellulose.
Through this project, we hope to make a positive change in both environmental and medical science.