Oviita iGEM UCalgary – a sustainable and community-based approach to alleviating Vitamin A deficiency


Oviita iGEM UCalgary, Calgary, AB

Designing a sustainable approach to combat vitamin A deficiency with an engineered yeast nutrient (tech focus: synthetic biology)


Team Grade Level: Undergradutae
Team Experience Level: Advanced
STEM Focus: Synthetic Biology


As a leading global cause of preventable blindness and mortality, Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is a serious health problem, particularly in developing regions. Many mitigative initiatives have been trialed, but these solutions have experienced limited success over the long-term. Oviita involves a nutritionally-rich strain of Yarrowia lipolytica that has been modified to produce beta-carotene, a Vitamin A precursor.

By engineering Y. lipolytica to produce cellulase enzymes, it can be sustainably grown on readily available plant-material. The yeast will also produce the anthelmintic agent thymol to tackle poor intestinal health. To ensure the engineered yeast can be easily and sustainably cultivated, we have developed an auxotrophic co-culturing biocontainment strategy and a bioreactor. Finally, our VAD testing device is a field-based device that will quantify retinol levels in the blood, allowing for a diagnosis of VAD. Oviita aims to tackle all the factors of VAD, working with the communities to develop a holistic and sustainable solution.



Posted on

June 16, 2022

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