Published: 12-12-2018 12:49 | Updated: 13-12-2018 20:29

KI students won award for best environmental project

Students at Karolinska Institutet (KI) have, together with students from KTH and Konstfack, developed a method for cleaning wastewater from antibiotic and other drug residues before reaching the sea. The idea and prototype was presented in an international competition in synthetic biology, where the Stockholm team won the first prize in two categories.

The Stockholm team, which is called iGEM Stockholm, participated in the annual competition in Boston, founded by MIT, in October. iGEM ​​Stockholm won gold and also became total winners in the “Best Environmental Project” and “Best integrated human practices” categories, which deals with how the project affects community needs and how to deal with aspects such as sustainability and ethics. iGEM ​​Stockholm focused on the Baltic Sea's problems with the release of antibiotics and drugs from wastewater.

”We managed to show that laccase, an enzyme found naturally in yeast which breaks down wood, could break down antibiotics with well-prepared protocols and experiments. This, combined with our completed project where we went beyond the lab by integrating community and expert opinions and suggesting a product on the market, made us stand out from the rest of the teams in our track”, says Els Alsema, a master student in the biomedicine program at KI.

In the global scientific competition iGEM in synthetic biology, approximately 350 teams participated. The competition is being conducted during the summer with a final in Boston this fall. The student teams will solve any problem they formulate themselves, for example in therapy, diagnostics or the environment using molecular biology methods by applying their knowledge.