November 2019: Gold medal to TAU team in iGEM
This year, iGEM was held in November in Boston, and TAU's team participated for the first time.
The International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) is a worldwide synthetic biology competition where every year hundreds of groups from different universities around the world participate and present novel ideas that address current global issues.
This year, iGEM was held in November in Boston, and TAU's team participated for the first time. The team was one of 163 groups out of 400 that won a gold medal. The team’s project which was partially supported by the Edmond J. Safra Center, was a novel approach for fighting resistant bacteria, based on the use of pyocins. The team included three BSc bioinformatics students: Dror Hadas, Ofek Schnitzer, and Omer Grinboim. The last two are Edmond J. Safra BSc student fellows, Prof. Tamir Tuller, Edmond J. Safra Center member (Engineering), together with Dr. Johann Elbaz (Life Sciences) and Dr. Dor Salomon (Medicine). The TAU team was also selected as one of the five finalists in the best poster competition.
More about the project: Antibiotic resistance is defined by WHO as one of the biggest threats to global health. TAU-IGEM suggested a solution that involves the use of R-type Pyocins, protein complexes produced by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Pyocins resemble bacteriophage structures while the killing spectra is determined by the pyocin tail fiber. Pyo-Pyo is a modular and controllable system created in a non-pathogenic E. coli which is served as a flexible ‘drug factory’. By replacing the original pyocin tail fibers with other tails the pyocins are engineered to target different bacterial pathogens. The solution also includes software, based on novel algorithms, for both designing the relevant tail fibers to target specific bacteria, and for optimizing the distribution of the pyocins in a specific medium for cost-effective usage.
The project was featured in the online newspaper Ynet.