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Gold medal for Warwick iGEM team
The Warwick iGEM 2021 team attended the iGEM Giant Jamboree in Paris on 11-14 November, where they were awarded a Gold Medal for their project, as well as receiving a nomination for the Best Model Special Prize.
iGEM is an international genetic engineering competition that fosters scientific research and education by creating a community of young student researchers. This year, 352 teams from over 45 countries took part in the competition.
Warwick’s 2021 team, CREscent, attempted to design a rapid detection method for a type of bacteria resistant to carbapenems, a last-resort antibiotic. These bacteria are often found in hospitals, and infections are extremely difficult to treat so isolation of infected patients is one of the only ways to contain its spread. Current detection methods for Carbapenem Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) are very slow and can take up to 4 days to return a positive result, exposing hospitals to potential unchecked spread of CRE in the meantime.
Therefore, the team designed rapid detection method for hospitals, by targeting a carbapenem resistance gene in E. coli using CRISPR. If the RNA molecule produced by this gene is detected, a different RNA is transcribed, which causes fluorescence. This acts as a visual identifier. The idea was that a swab would be taken in a hospital and placed into a test tube. If the bacteria present are resistant to carbapenems then the tube will glow green under UV light.
Read more about the project