Vesiprod project wins a gold medal in the iGEM synthetic biology competition

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From left to right, the students Olalla Ramírez, Arnau Vila, Alicia Invernón, Ju
From left to right, the students Olalla Ramírez, Arnau Vila, Alicia Invernón, Julia Sánchez and Pau Marín, who represented the team in the iGEM synthetic biology competition

The Vesiprod project, driven by a team of students of the Faculty of Biology of the University of Barcelona, has been awarded a gold medal in the synthetic biology international competition iGEM, promoted by the International Genetically Engineered Machine ( iGEM ) Foundation. The competition, which took place from the 26th to the 28th of October in Paris (France), gathered more than 300 teams of young researchers from around the world.

Vesiprod: the fight against Burkitt’s lymphoma

In this iGEM annual meeting —which reaches its 19th edition—, the UB was represented in front of the jury by four students: Arnau Vila, Júlia Sánchez, Alicia Invernón and Pau Marín. They presented the Vesiprod project, which aims to modify a cell line using genetic engineering and synthetic biology techniques for highly purifiable exosomes loaded with RNA interference to treat Burkitt’s lymphoma, which affects both children and adults.

iGEM is an emblematic competition that was created in January 2003 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As part of the competition, the students had a stand where they could interact with other students and international biotechnology companies to talk about their project and find out more about the science projects by other teams. At the same time, they could take part in workshops from different fields related to scientific research and synthetic biology.

Vesiprod is a project carried out by the students Olalla Ramírez, graduate in Biomedical Sciences and student of the master’s degree in Neurosciences; Pau Marín, who studied the master’s degree in Advanced Immunology; Arnau Vila, Júlia Sánchez, Jaume Ros, Claudia Campos and Claudia Gómez-Pastrana, students of the bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences; Arnau Llambrich, student of the bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy; Alícia Invernón, student of the bachelor’s degrees in Biology and Biotechnology; David Carrillo, student of the bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology; Daniel Saenz, graduate in Biomedical Sciecnes; Alejandro Madrid, student of the master’s degree in Bioinformatics and graduate in Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, and Àlex Bedmar, graduate in Bioinformatics. This initiative counted on the the scientific support of lecturer Manuel Reina, from the Department of Cell Biology, Physiology and Immunology and the Research Group Celltec UB, and the experts Gaël Roué, Marcelo Lima and Núria Profitós, from the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute.

In this exciting challenge, the young UB students could involve the University of Barcelona and the companies Palobiofarma and Capital Cell as sponsors. Moreover, they received the support from the Autonomous University of Barcelona, the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute, the Catalunya La Pedrera Foundation, the management company Bertomeu Assessors and the Jeroni de Moragas association.

iGEM Foundation is an independent and non-profit entity dedicated to education, the progress of synthetic biology and the promotion of an open and collaborative community in this knowledge field. Every year, the iGEM competition allows young talented students, free from the restraints of the academic research, to overcome the limits of synthetic biology and solve the current problems of health and the environment. The teams build devices that explore new approaches and ideas to solve complex problems, ranging from bioremediation to therapeutic treatments and sustainable materials.

As a result of participating in the iGEM 2022 competition, the UB students are planning to form a new team to give more students the opportunity to participate and experience this unforgettable experience.