The first Bulgarian team of synthetic biology iGEM Bulgaria Sofia Tech Park is going to take part for the fourth time in row in the finals of the biggest and most prestigious international competition in this field for young scientists – iGEM. The contest takes place every year in Boston, the USA and over 350 teams from all over the world participate.
The Bulgarian team consists of future scientists and doctors from Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”. Members of the team are the students- Mikaela Stancheva, Asia Nikolova and Tsveta Tsanova, fourth year specialty Molecular biology and Ivan Pashov, fifth year specialty Medicine.
Not only is iGEM a great platform for young students to develop, it also offers the opportunity to resolve socially significant problems. This year, the project is focused on this global problem – the resistance of pathogens to antibiotics. Antimicrobial resistance is one of the threats for human and animal health and causes about 33,000 deaths within the European Union each year. The overall total costs are over 1.5 billion euro. The trends are negative –the number of infections, such as tuberculosis, pneumonia and others, which can be caused by pathogenic bacteria resistant to medication, is increasing constantly. Therefore, antimicrobial resistance has been identified as a priority issue of the highest importance by the World Health Organisation and the European Commission. The statistics show that in the absence of new treatments, about 10 million people will die each year by infections caused by multidrug-resistant bacteria by 2050.
The solution offered by iGEM Bulgaria Sofia Tech Park is based on the development of a new system for the isolation and production of antimicrobial peptides. These molecules are among the most promising candidates with activity against multi-resistant bacterial pathogens. They are naturally occurring compounds that can be isolated from various living organisms and participate in natural defense mechanisms against bacterial, fungal and viral pathogens. The new system will allow the rapid, easy and cheap isolation and characterization of such peptides from exotic animal, plant and bacterial species with sequenced genomes and their production through modern biotechnology. Young scientists believe that current DNA analysis methods will allow many of these components to be identified and tested when their platform is ready.
So far, the Bulgarian team has returned with awards from every edition of iGEM, and have only been won silver and two bronze medals. Expectations and hopes are that our young scientists again will win the medal from the race, which will take place from October 30 to November 4 in Boston.
The main sponsor of the team is Sofia Tech Park. In addition to financial support for young students, the Science and Technology Park has provided the Bioinfotech laboratory to do their scientific research which the team is going to compete with.
The team is also sponsored by Student Council at Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski, Chaikapharma HIGH QUALITY MEDICINES JSC, RIDACOM PROMEGA Corporation.
You can learn more about the team and their project at the following links: