OUR TEAM: UZURICH
UZurich 2023: The official iGEM team of the University of Zurich
Fighting Endometriosis with Synthetic Biology
13 students from UZH and ETHZ are aiming to address endometriosis, an underdiagnosed yet often debilitating disease affecting many women. We are exploring the use of bacteria as potential delivery vehicles for treatment that would target and influence unhealthy endometrial cells in the uterus. Our goal is to provide a promising new, non-surgical avenue for treating endometriosis and improving the quality of life for those affected by it.
Every iGEM team additionally will maintain a website that contains all the information about their project which will go online towards the end of their project.
Want to know what previous teams at UZH did?
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is an umbrella term that comprises conditions such as Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). Patients suffer from chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract that leads to symptoms like bloody stools, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fatigue. As of today, the cause of IBD is still unknown and there is no cure available. Current therapies are systemic and can lead to severe side effects. Furthermore, the therapies’ costs are causing a significant economic burden on the national health care system. We, the 2022 iGEM team from the University of Zurich, want to tackle the lack of targeted treatment options by harnessing the power of the gut microbiome to help IBD patients and increase their daily quality of life.
Plants are the basis of sustenance. Human beings need food to live. The world population is growing. All these aspects have a central hinge: food stability. Synthetic pesticides have so far tried to play this role, but their limitations are increasingly evident: loss of biodiversity, human health problems, development of resistance by the pathogens attacked. We have the solution: Outer Membrane Vesicles. OMVs are bubbles that can do what a vaccine does for people, give a boost to their immune defences, therefore ensuring a stable future for agriculture.
It is our mission to elaborate on the implementation of plant PRRs (pattern recognition receptors). These membrane located proteins offer potential for microbial load detection in water. By collaborating with industry and academia alike, we are advancing the broad field of plant immunity and bio-reporters.
We took a step towards constructing a large protein cage within bacteria that can be used to confine and compartmentalize biochemical reactions with potential toxic intermediate products.
To produce this protein cage, we took a minimal component approach to replicate a natural phage-bacteria interaction. The phage we worked with encapsulates its DNA into a protein cage upon infection of the host bacteria.
By using multiple approaches such as microscopy, sequence analysis and in-vitro assays, we started to assess which proteins are necessary to form this protein cage. We then co-expressed promising candidate genes in the host and evaluated the results via microscopy.