A thrilling event for the diagnost-x team: finally, the first work steps in the laboratory are performed! But what exactly is happening in the lab right now?

The first step to start developing something new is clear: we must find out how to get there. Indeed, with the RNA switch technology, we have already a clear idea of how we want to create the WormSpotter sensor. But we have to know for sure that our basic methods are working! This week, we thus started to check and optimize the methods we are later going to use for the WormSpotter test.
But how to check the success of a first-time trial? The best solution: try to accomplish something that should definitely work.
The one RNA toehold sensor that reportedly and famously works is Zika 27B, published for Zika virus diagnostics last year (1) – if we could get our in-house version of this Zika sensor, we can be sure that the methods and protocols will also work for all novel sensors that we could ever think of!

So, right now in the lab, the typical first steps of synthetic biology are taking place: To produce larger quantities of any nucleic acid, you need a plasmid (the genetic backbone of a bacterium) as your DNA factory. Simultaneously, you need to synthesize the genes that you then, later, insert in the plasmid and thus start your DNA factory.
And while spinning centrifuges, preparing solutions, performing bacterial preparations or synthesizing genes, each lab newbie is working together with an experienced supervisor – this way, by the end of our “test run”, everyone will be a pro in their own part of the workflow!

(1) Original publication for Zika 27B switch: http://www.cell.com/fulltext/S0092-8674(16)30505-0