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SYSU-CHINA and SYSU-Software won awards in iGEM 2018

Last updated :2018-11-08

Source: School of Life Sciences
Written by: School of Life Sciences
Edited by: Wang Dongmei

On October 28, 2018,the global finals of the International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition (iGEM) 2018 came to an end in Boston. About 365 teams from more than 40 countries and regions participated in the Giant Jamboree, including the United States, China, Germany, the United Kingdom and Japan. In the finals, the students from Sun Yat-sen University (SYSU) showed clear logic, self-confidence and demonstrated brilliant project results, solid discipline foundation and high innovation ability. The SYSU-CHINA won the Gold Medal and Best New Basic Part and two nominations for Best Therapeutics Project Nomination and Best Measurement Nomination.The SYSU-Software was awarded the Silver Medal.

The iGEM competition was founded in 2003 by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and became an international event in 2005. It aims to promote the study, exchange and cooperation of college students in the field of Synthetic Biology, and promote the development of Synthetic Biology. The iGEM has become an international top university student science and technology competition in the field of synthetic biology. Every year, the competition has been paid attention and reported by the journals like Nature, Science, Scientific American, Economists and the BBC, and has a considerable international influence. Each time, SYSU’s School of Life Sciences organizes the school team one year ahead of schedule, contacts teachers in relevant fields to give guidance, and leads the team to Boston for the competition.

The SYSU-CHINA consists of 13 undergraduate students including Tao Yu, Mao Xiaowen, Tang Yuluan, Gao Menghan, Ruan Shaolin, Wang Lin, Tan Tianhao, Zhu Hongyi, Tao Kehan, Xu Feihong from School of Life Sciences, School of Chemistry and School of Mathematics. The project was independently proposed by all 13 undergraduate team members and the whole experiment during the project was also exclusively conducted by them under the guidance of instructors Huang Junjiu and Liu Feng from School of Life Sciences. In addition, Prof. Cui Jun from the School of Life Sciences and Prof.Xia Xiaojun from the Cancer Center also provided important opinions and suggestions for the project. The project is designed to address side effects in CAR-T treatment. CAR-T therapy is one of the most promising treatment for cancer, with multiple ongoing clinical trials worldwide and 2 therapies approved by the FDA. However, without proper control after administration of CAR-T cells, severe adverse effects may bring fatal risks to the patients, especially during the clinical trial stages. To provide a safer yet affordable CAR-T therapy, the team developed a reversible safe switch controlled by small molecules called CAR BRAKE. By expressing U24 protein of the human herpesvirus 6A under the control of tet-ON promoter, they can downregulate CAR molecules on the cell surface through endosomal recycling inhibition. This could potentially be used as a universal add-on for all CAR-Ts and TCR-Ts to ensure safety. The project was highly praised by the judges and experts and eventually won multiple honors.