Bacteria that make us ill are very clever. Through natural evolution, they constantly develop new strategies to arm themselves against our antibiotics leading to multi-resistant superbacteria that put all of mankind at risk. In order to ensure humanity’s future health, we must develop new strategies to deal with bacterial infections.
This is why we, a team of students from Leiden University, are developing bacteria that change colour when exposed to stress. We can use them to test the effect of existing antibiotics making the worldwide search for new antibiotic treatments significantly easier. To make this happen, we need your support. Will you say yes to stress?
We need new antibiotics to combat resistant bacteria, but scientists have been unable to discover new types of antibiotics for the past couple of decades. To tackle this problem, we came up with an innovative approach: bacteria that can show us what kind of stress they are experiencing by changing colour.
Stressful substances are not deadly to bacteria by themselves, however, the right combination can create a lethal cocktail. Our ‘stress bacteria’ will enable us to identify substances that can enhance the effect of existing medicines or create entirely new ones. This means we can outsmart resistant bacteria, without having to develop entirely new antibiotics.
Medicines or other substances can cause stress in bacteria. The DNA contains sensors that react to these external factors ‘turning on’ genes that bring about a stress response. By cutting up and rearranging DNA, we can make these sensors trigger a change in colour. As a result, our bacterium, for instance, turns green when the cell wall starts leaking, and blue when its nutrient uptake has been prohibited. With this relatively simple colour-indication, every substance in the world can be tested for their stress-giving ability.
iGEM is an annual competition in which talented students from all over the world attempt to solve global issues using synthetic biology. Together with our stress bacteria, we are competing against 323 other student teams. Besides setting up and performing experiments, we are also responsible for the planning, promotion, and funding of our project. The big finale of the competition will take place in October in Boston. In order to present a solid, well-rounded project and impress the judges we need your help.
With your support we want to tackle the global issue of antibiotic resistance, take home the grand prize in Boston and put Leiden University on the map as a world-class university. Our project is part of ongoing research within the university and will be continued when we achieve promising results, even if we don’t win in Boston.
We need funding to buy lab materials, chemicals, and a lot of DNA. You can decide to what extent you want to support us in the battle against antibiotic resistance. Pick the type of stress you want to expose resistant bacteria to and together we will defeat them. In short, choose your colour and say YES to stress!
The iGEM Leiden team: Lotte Weel – 2nd year Psychology, Marijke Grundeken – 3rd year Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chiel van Amstel – 3rd year Life Science and Technology, Laurens ter Haar –3rd year Biomedical Sciences, Daphne van den Homberg –3rd year Biomedical Sciences, Marjolein Crooijmans –Master Biotechnology and Science Based Business, Charlotte de Ceuninck van Capelle – 3rd year Bio-Farmaceutische Wetenschappen, Tim de Jong –3rd year Molecular Science and Technology, Mees Fox – 3rd year Life Science and Technology. Onderste rij: Carli Koster – 3rd Life Science and Technology, Maaike de Jong –Master Biomedical Sciences, Jazzy de Waard–3rd year Molecular Science and Technology, and Germaine Aalderink –3rd year Biomedical Sciences.
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