MBM strikes gold at iGEM 2020 in its first appearance

MBM strikes gold at iGEM 2020 in its first appearance

Manipal: Manipal Biotechnology, a synthetic biology research team of the Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT), the Manipal Academy of Higher Education, won a gold medal in its first attempt at the International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition (IGEM 2020). The results were announced at IGEM Vishal Jamboree, which was held from 13 to 22 November, a MAHE release said on Thursday.

Teams had to submit videos, posters and a website with all the information related to their project according to stringent deadlines. The competition took place in the summer of 2020 and 249 teams from 36 countries participated from teams such as Harvard, Stanford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Michigan State University, Indian Institute of Technology and Indian Institute of Science Education and Research. .

For this year’s project, MBM chose to find effective, long-term and novel solutions, naming methyl mercury poisoning – breaking bonds. Humans are mainly exposed to methyl mercury, which is mainly from contaminated fish. This can cause neurological problems including muscle weakness, narrowing of vision, and hearing and speech damage. Currently, there are no effective methods that deal with this problem.

“By designing a probiotic pill that converts methyl mercury into elemental mercury – which is less toxic in the gut, we expect to provide solutions to methyl mercury poisoning to a large number of people, both at cost as well as In terms of usability, ”said Varun Udaya Kumar, Team Leader, MBM. The team worked on designing experiments to obtain proof of concept for their probiotic bacteria taking into account the conditions of the gut environment.

The team carefully employed real-life implementation aspects of their project, including the capsule manufacturing process among other things and continuously improved on all aspects, paying attention to the input of various stakeholders. The team has also designed a small-scale hardware device that can simulate visceral conditions. Beyond technology, the team was evaluated for teamwork, responsibility, entrepreneurship and so on.

“This year’s Giant Jambore is a spectacular display of hard work and ingenuity. These students are showing the world what is possible when we tackle tough problems fearlessly and open our minds to new applications of engineering biology, ”said Randy Retberg, co-founder and president of IGEM. “Many of the projects presented at IGEM will serve as the foundation and inspiration for critical research, Retberg said.

Varun Udaya Kumar led a team of 21 students comprising Niyati Sanghvi, Soumyadeep Sarkar, Adith Somayaji, Shravan Balasubramaniam and Sanya Lakhotia. She was assisted by Ritu Rawal and Praveen Kumar, Associate Professor and Assistant Professor at the Department of Biotechnology, MIT, Manipal. The team began their journey in March. With the lockdown – MBM’s first visit to IGEM was fraught with obstacles, Varun said.

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