iGEM 2019: Fighting antibiotic resistance
The iGEM Eindhoven 2019 team takes on the fight against antibiotic resistance by the development of a fast and specific detection method of bacteria. This method can be used as an easy-to-use point-of-care test to diagnose bacterial infections and in that way enable the specific use of antibiotics. Together with your help, we can win this battle!
With your donation, we can finance the proof of concept of our scientific research and present our presentation at the iGEM competition in Boston. Help us in this fight against antibiotic resistance, and donate!
For more information about our project, visit our Wiki: https://2019.igem.org/Team:TU_Eindhoven
The TU/e crowdfunding platform is part of the University Fund Eindhoven (UFe). This fund is a Public Benefit Institution (PBO). This means that your donation is fully, or partly, deductible from taxes in the Netherlands. For more information about this, contact UFe: UFe@tue.nl
Every year, an iGEM Eindhoven student team participates in the International Genetic Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition.
The iGEM competition was organized for the first time in 2003 by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It has grown over the years and is now the largest synthetic biology competition, with more than 360 teams participating from all over the world. Since 2012, Eindhoven University of Technology participates in the iGEM competition. Each year, a new student team starts with their own original research project. With support from the academic staff of the Institute of Complex Molecular Systems, the Eindhoven teams have accomplished promising results and even won prizes for Best New Application and Best Innovation in Measurement.
Bacterial infections such as the common urinary tract infections or simple wound infections are all treated with lots of antibiotics. An increasing problem nowadays and one of the biggest threats to global health in thirty years will be antibiotic resistance. The bacteria, the enemies with infections, mutate continuously whereby they can make themselves resistant to the antibiotics used to treat the infection. This process is heavily accelerated by unspecific and frequent use of antibiotics. If we continue to use unspecific and unnecessary high dosages of antibiotics, all bacteria will mutate and become immune to our weapons. This means that in 2050, 10 million people across Europe and the US alone will die because of antibiotic resistance. In other words, infections such as urinary tract infections will soon cause more deaths than cancer and cardiovascular diseases combined.
This year’s team aims to overcome the antibiotic resistance problem by improving the diagnostics of infections to decrease and prevent antibiotics misuse. By developing a more specific and faster detection method, infections can be treated more quickly and specifically without the development of antibiotic resistance. Specific detection is needed to administer specific types of antibiotics, instead of high general doses. Because of the modularity of our method, a broad range of bacteria can be detected and therefore various infections can be diagnosed.
Next to that, a broad application is possible that extends further than the diagnosis of infections at humans, for example also the diagnosis of animals. Lots of antibiotics are used in factory farming (often even as a preventive measure) and the resistant bacteria resulting from these practices, also pose a great threat to humans. Lastly, also drink water and food can be easily and quickly checked on the presence of pathogenic bacteria.
With our detection method we hope to achieve the following goals:
With today's detection methods, it generally takes more than a day to obtain results about what kind of bacterial infection you have. With our point-of-care detection method, you know within the time scale of only one hour what kind of infection you have. This short time scale will ensure for a decrease in the unspecific application of antibiotics, and therefore a reduction in antibiotical resistance.
The technique we are using in our detection method is based on a specific combination of a bacterial infection and its DNA. This is achieved because of the use of bacteriophages and the CRISPR-Cas system, together with the expression of blue bioluminescence light. Because this combination is so accurate, you can state with great certainty what kind of bacterial infection you are dealing with. This also ensures great certainty in the use of the right antibiotics.
The use of the CRISPR-Cas system is also the reason that our system is very modular. A big advantage of the CRISPR-Cas system is that the DNA sequence to be detected is very easy to adjust. Therefore, our system can be adapted to detect a broad spectrum of bacteria, which makes our detection very applicable to various applications such as the diagnosis of a variety of infections (e.g. urinary tract infections and wound infections) in humans as well as animals but also as a method for the detection of pathogenic bacteria in drinking water and food.
The implementation of this fast and specific bacteria detection method will ensure that we can keep on winning our fight against bacteria.
The iGEM Eindhoven 2019 team is a multi-disciplinary team consisting of 11 ambitious students with different backgrounds. The team consists of 3 bachelor and 8 master students with studies varying between medical engineering, biomedical engineering, and industrial design.
Together with the support of prof. dr. ir. Luc Brunsveld, prof. dr. Maarten Merkx, dr. ir. Tom de Greef and other professors and PhD students, we are very motivated to obtain major scientific breakthroughs and win grand prices during the iGEM competition.