Published: 23-11-2016 14:30 | Updated: 07-12-2016 15:05

Students from KI compete in synthetic biology

IGEM Stockholm

For the second consecutive year, students in Stockholm have competed in the International Genetically Engineered Machines competition (iGEM). The team, with students from Karolinska Institute, KTH and Konstfack designed a spider web with antimicrobial properties.

iGEM is a competition were students construct genetically modified biological systems and even this year the Stockholm team won a gold medal and several top nominations. The contestants are encouraged to, in a safe and sustainable way, try to solve a real world challenge and a lot of focus this year was put on antibiotic resistance.

“It was cool that so many different teams were stressing this and coming up with ideas on how to target the issue and we are proud of our promising results”, says Sigrun Stulz, one of the team members.

Their project, Spider Silk Mediated Infection Treatment (SMITe), attempts to treat chronic wounds with bio-materials.

“When a bacteria enters a wound it can produce biofilm that increases the risk for resistance developing and prevent healing. With an enzyme we can attach specific proteins, with abilities to reduce the formation of biofilm, to the spider silk. The web can then be used as a treatment for wound healing, like a band aid.”

One can now apply for a spot in next year’s team and Sigrun Stulz encourages everyone interested to give it a shot.

“iGEM is a unique chance in your research career to go where your interest leads you - without worrying about which project is most likely to get funding or high-impact publications.”

Text: Frida Wennerholm