International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) is a competition for student teams in which techniques from the field of synthetic biology are used to solve a diverse range of problems. The final is held every year in Boston.
After the closing ceremony - held late Monday evening Dutch time - Yvonne van Mil, who handles the team's PR, reported that the event had gone “superbly” for the iGEM team from Eindhoven. “It was a busy but very interesting conference. We saw many of the presentations made by other teams and have been greatly impressed by all the projects and the results they achieved. We ourselves won nominations in the categories Best Diagnostics Project, Best Poster, Best New Basic Part, Best New Composite Part, and Best Measurement. What's more, we met the gold medal criteria.” This year only 15 percent of the 375 participating teams were eligible for a gold medal.
With their project, this year iGEM Eindhoven was keen to address the problem of antibiotic resistance: as a result of overprescribing and the careless use of antibiotics, ever more bacteria are becoming insensitive to medicines of this type. A quicker method of detecting bacteria would make it possible to prescribe a more targeted course of antibiotics, so ran their thinking. The method they have developed relies on phages - viruses that prey on bacteria - using which the type of bacteria causing an infection can, in principle, be established in under an hour. The team collaborated on this with phage experts at the Queen Astrid Military Hospital in Brussels.
In September the team became the first TU/e iGEM team to start a crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds it needed to cover the costs of participating in the closing event at iGEM, the Giant Jamboree’ held at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, which took place last Friday through Monday. The campaign raised 2,935 euros - almost 500 euros more than the targeted amount.