iGEM DreamTeam at Giant Jamboree in Boston

News - 09 November 2017 - Communication TNW

The iGEM Dream team has left for Boston. Between 9 and 13 November, the so-called' Giant Jamboree' will take place there, a large-scale event bringing together more than 300 international teams working on a project in the field of synthetic biology. The iGEM team from TU Delft presents a concept for a test to demonstrate antibiotic resistance in livestock.

The project of the Delft-based team focuses on the use of a protein, Cas13a, which is part of the CRISPR-Cas family. CRISPR-Cas proteins are currently in the spotlight, as they allow us to easily rewrite DNA or RNA. According to experts, this new technique will play an important role in our lives. In the near future, for example, we may be able to simply write hereditary diseases out of our DNA

Genetic slaughter
But what does a technique that allows you to rewrite DNA have to do with antibiotic resistance? Like other proteins within the same family, Cas13a protein can look for specific RNA strands in a cell and then cut them to pieces. But unlike the other Cas proteins, the Cas13a protein then goes on to attack the other RNA in a cell as well. The Delft-based iGEM team has developed a test method to make this genetic slaughter visible.

The Cas13a protein can be programmed in such a way that it searches for genes known to be present specifically in antibiotic resistant bacteria. So if you let Cas13a loose on, for example, a milk sample of a sick cow, you can use it to test if there are antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the milk (and therefore in the cow). This is the basic idea, but the overall concept includes more. Further information can be found on the team's website.

The Delft iGEM team may win a prize in the following categories:

- Best Integrated Human Practices
- Best Education and Public Engagement
- Best Modeling
- Best Measurement
- Best Applied Design
- Best Software tool
- Best Supporting Entrepreneurship