A team of undergraduate students from the University of California-Santa Cruz developed a system called Progenie which is designed to target and eliminate a toxic gene found in the production of Shiga toxin. E. coli.
The team’s method offers an alternative to antibiotics commonly used in agriculture. This new method is designed in part to stop the rise of drug-resistant bacteria.
The team’s project won a gold medal at the Jamboree International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM), an annual competition that brings together student teams from around the world to present synthetic biology projects aimed at solving pressing global problems. .
At the jamboree, teams are judged on their virtual project posters, wiki pages and video presentations. Teams receive gold medals if they demonstrate excellence in multiple categories.
The UC-Santa Cruz team solicited input from members of the local community who would benefit most from their new technology.
“Developing our project idea took months of brainstorming, research and awareness,” said team co-captain Torrey Brownell, fourth-year biology student. “We wanted our project to have a strong positive impact on our community and give us the opportunity to explore each of our scientific interests. “
“This project solidified after our team spoke with local stakeholders – cattle ranchers, farmers and packaging plant workers – and heard about the economic impact and food waste that is occurring. occurs with foodborne bacterial epidemics, ”said Co-Captain Stephen Hwang, now a first-graduate student in Biomolecular Engineering and Bioinformatics.
The undergraduates worked with Associate Professor of Biomolecular Engineering David Bernick, who provided advice and helped the team set goals and timelines. In March 2021, team members started developing and testing their system.
“One of the most rewarding aspects of iGEM has been helping a group of students starved by a pandemic to become the engineers and scientists they have dreamed of for years,” said Bernick.
The UCSC 2021 team included Co-Captains Hwang and Brownell and Members Rhea Kamath, Franklin Zheng, David Kelaita, Denise Calderon, Julia Howard, Tobin Berger-Cahn, Rose Delvillar, Nabil Mohammed, Yi-Chi Chu, Tanya Ivanov, Tarabryn Grismer, Wen Liu, Emily Hallamasek and Fonz Gamino.
Team members plan to continue developing the project.
You can find more information about Progenie on the website IGEM website.
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