The International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) foundation which is an independent, non-profit organization that pioneered the synthetic biology industry and continues to advance the field through education, competition and industry collaboration. iGEM’s annual student competition is the largest synthetic biology innovation program and a Launchpad for the industry’s most successful leaders and companies. The competition empowers thousands of local people to solve local problems around the world by engineering biology for safe and responsible solutions. (More on iGEM can be read here: https://theqriusrhino.wordpress.com/2020/05/10/igem-in-india/)
A group of students from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Berhampur successfully secured Gold Medal for their project named “FRaPPe” (FRET-based Ranker for Proteins and Peptides) designed to create a new tool to target Dengue fever. This mosquito-borne disease has increased 30 times over the past 50 years and became a major socio-economic threat to the humankind. Up to 390 million infections are estimated to occur annually around the world, and it is endemic to 129 countries now, putting over half of the world population at risk. The team created a modular reporter system consisting of viral components and host components fused to fluorescent tags and assembled in a mammalian expression system. FRaPPe can eventually turn into a drug screening module to provide a therapeutic intervention strategy for not just Dengue but also several other viral infections (more details of the project can be read here: https://2020.igem.org/Team:IISER_Berhampur).
“The diversity of team members from multiple science disciplines made us to explore all possibilities and we hope we could navigate ourselves to understand the science”The Team Leader Gyanranjan
With the limitations of this year the Finale called “iGEM Giant Jamboree” was held in virtual platform with over 6,000 participants from 249 teams of 36 countries. With an expert panel of judges from across the globe, the participants are evaluated on teamwork, responsibility, entrepreneurship, sharing, safety and more.
“It was a challenge to switch a high throughput lab work to computation and this was a tremendous experience”The Dry Lab Team
The very well organized action plan, design and execution iGEM team of IISER Berhampur made them grab the Gold medal in the world’s largest synthetic biology competition. The timely shift of project design to computational aspects helped the team to continue their work despite the inaccessibility to research lab due to pandemic. The team is preparing to publish the findings very soon.
The team conveys their sincere wishes to Prof. KVR Chary (Director, IISER Berhampur) and to all staffs, faculty and students of IISER fraternity, also all collaborators and mentors. It was a 9-month long journey with the project that was guided by Dr R Selvi Bharathavikru and Dr Sandeep Chatterjee (Assistant Professors of IISER Berhampur). It is the first attempt of IISER Berhampur in iGEM competition and with a splendid start the team could motivate many young students and thus the entire society.
“We were fortunate to receive an overwhelming support for our crowdfunding campaign, outreach activities and in all our ventures, we are extremely obliged to all our sponsors and well-wishers”The Cretaive Team
In the past, this stupendous International platform had given rise to many wonderful projects from India, but this unprecedented year made many things to be in corner triggering impossibilities over possibilities. Despite numerous challenges, the Giant Jamboree witnessed a remarkable performance from all Indian iGEM teams marking the Gold achievement by BITS-Goa, IISER Bhopal, IISER Pune, IIT Roorkee, IISER Tirupati and MIT-Mahe.
“The opportunity to associate with many National and International teams helped us a lot to experience a broader spectrum of research topics”The Wet Lab Team
Kudos and hearty wishes to every participants, mentors, institute and all associated names who had persisted with their efforts to incorporate and light up their project ideas to the entire scientific community.
iGEM IISER Berhampur Team Members: Kingkini Roychoudhury, Prachiti Vithole, Sayantani Biswas, Chitrak Bhowmik, Deepjyoti Satpathy, Gokul Madhav, Gyanaranjan Parida, Neehar Verma, Sudev Pradhan, Tanishta Bhattacharya, U Abinash Patro, Sukanya Chakroborty, Harish Senapati, Vinayak S and Gokul Bhaskaran (more on team members can be read here: https://sites.google.com/iiserbpr.ac.in/igemiiserberhampur/team2020)
Contact the team: [email protected]
Promo video of the project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPbIsTWCbtU
About the Author: I am Gokul, an undergrad BS-MS student at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Berhampur and a DST-INSIPRE fellow majoring in Biological Sciences. My research interests revolves around understanding evolution and behavior in molecular, cellular and biochemical aspects. Love working with laboratory model systems. Please feel free to contact me: [email protected]
Previously Gokul has authored :The Lab That Never Closes
Other related articles: 1. Manipulating Protein Interactions in Engineered Cells
2. iGEM in India!