Universiteit Leiden

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Fifty Shades of Stress

The challenge: Building a tool to detect chemical compounds that individually cause non-lethal stress to bacteria, but that are lethal in combination. A team of thirteen Leiden students are taking up this challenge in the annual ‘international Genetically Engineered Machine’ (iGEM) competition for applications of genetic manipulation to resolve societal problems.

International science competition

The students’ research (iGEM Leiden 2018) is part of the world’s biggest competition in synthetic biology, organised by the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In total, over 300 teams from all over the world are participating in the competition. Each team solves a problem of their own choice using synthetic biology. The results will be announced at the Giant Jamboree in the Hynes Convention Centre in Boston (United States) from 25 to 28 October 2018.

Fifty Shades of Stress

The Leiden team has chosen to tackle the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. It has become an enormous problem nowadays to existing antibiotics, while very few new antibiotics have been found in the past couple of years with traditional screening methods. 'Fifty Shades of Stress: A colourful screening platform for detecting bacterial cell stress' is the official name of the project, aimed at applying synthetic lethality to counteract this problem.

Follow the team

 iGEM Leiden 2018 will try to create a library of chemical reporters that respond to stresses in different cellular pathways, by fusing stress-induced promoters to pigmented chromoproteins in E. coli. In this manner, stress-inducing compounds can be discovered with greater ease and be developed for application in combination therapy. The progress of the team can be followed via Facebook and Twitter.

Team members

Carli Koster - Life Science and Technology
Charlotte de Ceuninck - Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences
Chiel van Amstel - Life Science and Technology
Daphne van den Homberg - Biomedical Sciences
Germaine Aalderink - Biomedical Sciences
Jazzy de Waard - Molecular Science and Technology
Laurens ter Haar - Biomedical Sciences
Lotte Weel - Psychology
Maaike de Jong - Biomedical Sciences
Marijke Grundeken – Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences
Marjolein Crooijmans - Biotechnology and Science Based Business
Mees Fox - Life Science and Technology
Tim de Jong - Molecular Science and Technology

Supervised by
Dennis Claessen
Han de Winde

iGEM 2018

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