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Bio-Design Challenge 

The MA Material Futures course at ual: Central Saint Martins took part in the annual Bio-Design Challenge. We were put into groups of two and given the scenario of designing for the anthropocene.  

The Resistance Runner

Immunotex is a travel wear start-up, designed to help protect travelers from the growing threat of antibiotic resistant bacteria. The Resistance Runner is a bio-formulated shoe that utilizes cloned bacteriocins and micrococcus in a nutrient broth cocktail; essentially harnessing the bacteria’s own defense system as a protective layer. The special formula is infused into our own fabrication technology that adapts the marine sponge as a scaffold. Antibiotic resistance bacteria have become a serious worldwide public health threat in recent years, and finding alternative approaches to decrease our liability is the only way forward into the Anthropocene epoch. ​

We took our cue from global shifts around the world in travel and the spread of resistant bacteria for our inspiration. Travel has become an efficient way to expose and be exposed to unfamiliar strains of bacteria. Each and every one of us has a different immune system. When we travel, we are exposed to all sorts of new infectious agents such as bacteria, many being resistant to current antibiotics. These set of circumstances inspired a new travel wear shoe, Resistance Runner, because of the increase in travel and the increase in antibiotic resistant infections. The Resistance Runner is designed for comfortable travel, while simultaneously protecting the traveler and others around them in the Anthropocene.

The number of resistant bacteria are increasing globally and they will continue to grow in number for many decades to come. An estimated 700,000 people die every year from drug-resistant infections. By 2050 it will cost the world an additional 10 million lives per year. The economic cost of the resistance problem be 100 trillion USD, half the annual world GDP today. The world health organization has recently recognized the problem of bacterial resistance. This recognition will help governments around the world start to adopt ways to decrease the problem of resistant organisms that cannot be killed with current antibiotic therapies. Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recently published a critical list of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Starting to think about adopting various alternative means to antibiotic therapies is crucial. Creating the resistance runner is another way to help slow down the spread of superbugs in addition to making the public more aware of what a problem resistant bacteria are, how they become resistant and ways the public can protect themselves. The resistance runner will be able to block or capture and inhibit the growth and therefore the spread of resistant bacteria depending on their cell size. 

The resistance runner will be able to successfully do this based on its specially designed biofilm matrix. The cloned bacteria would happily live on and within the interior of the marine sponge which would act as the bacteria’s scaffold. The sponge would be grounded and mixed within the mesh of the shoe material. The biofilm matrix would need to be recharged in a nutrient broth every seven days in order to create a happy and effective bacterial culture capable of containing the resistant bacteria the traveler comes in contact with. The consumer would be able to recharge the resistance runner by putting it back into the box in which it originally came. The shoe box acts as a charging unit and includes two pumps that hold the nutrient broth. The pump would be able to pump out the broth into the shoe so that the good bacteria (micrococcus) get fed. An entire travel wear line would be in future proposals (jackets, tops and pants for example), for customers to bring across borders to keep themselves and the people around them safe and protected.