Aiming to promote education and engagement of undergraduate and postgraduate students on the field of Synthetic Biology, we strongly support the participation of Greek teams at the International Synthetic Biology Competition, iGEM. Discover the work of the 2021 Greek iGEM teams.
iGEM 2021 Visual Identity, iGEM Foundation
Meet iGEM Athens 2021
This year, the iGEM Athens team consists of 7 people. They were all members of the iGEM Athens 2020 team and once again, they participate enthusiastically. Kleoniki Pylarinou, Vassilia Spyridaki, Ilias Toumbe, Eleftheria Kelefioti Stratidaki are undergraduate students at the School of Chemical Engineering, NTUA, Marianna Ioannidou is an undergraduate student at the Department of Biotechnology, AUA, Orsalia Veloudiou is an undergraduate student at Medicine School, NKUA and Spyros Kanelopoulos is a graduate from the Department of Biology, NKUA.
The team aims to address the problem of accessibility and production limitations of PCR’s raw materials, a method that is used daily in laboratories and diagnostic centres around the world. Each PCR reaction requires, among others, a polymerase and the four monomers (dNTPs) that structure the final product. However, the total cost of dNTPs production is high, and they are often produced by complicated, low-yield, unsustainable chemical processes. In addition, PCR techniques are feasible only in centralized laboratories by small groups of laboratory experts and expensive equipment. These problems can be generalized to all nucleic acid amplification (NAA) techniques. Using the principles of Synthetic Biology, iGEM Athens 2021 is designing a genetic circuit that will produce Pfu polymerase and RNR and TSase enzymes, which are necessary for the dNTPs production. The team’s goal is to make nucleic acid amplification techniques more accessible at non-centralized facilities!
Meet iGEM NOUS 2021
iGEM NOUS is a new interdisciplinary team with students from all over Greece aiming to participate in the iGEM 2021 competition. The team is composed of 12 undergraduate students from 8 different faculties, including Medicine, Biology, Computer Science & Biomedical Informatics, Molecular Biology & Genetics, Physics, Computer Science, Economics, and Graphic Design in 4 different cities including Alexandroupolis, Athens, Thessaloniki, and Lamia. The team is supported by the professors Eleni Kaldoudi, Nikolaos M. Glykos, Maria Margy Koffa, Georgios Drossatos and Georgios Drossos, under the auspices of Democritus University of Thrace.
On their first participation, with the project “Epione”, the team aspires to offer to hundreds of people suffering from Osteoarthritis, the chance to walk again without any restrictions or pain by designing an innovative and non-intrusive therapy. Osteoarthritis is the most common musculoskeletal disease around the world, leading in many cases to severe paralysis. The therapy includes the injection of genetically modified cells in the affected joint. iGEM NOUS 2021 has designed a plasmid which will enable the cells to produce exosomes with a certain guiding tag (Chondrocyte Affinity Peptide) to target specifically chondrocytes and a specific microRNA, which will eventually be loaded in the chondrocytes inhibiting the expression of proteins responsible for cartilage destruction while promoting the expression of proteins which take part in the cartilage formation. These modified cells would be injected in the patient’s joint halting the progression of the disease and relieving the patient from the burden and pain of Osteoarthritis.
Meet iGEM IOANNINA 2021
Team iGEM IOANNINA is the first team to represent the University of Ioannina in this year’s competition. It consists of 12 students from four departments of the University: Department of Biological Applications and Technologies (Konstantinos Afordakos, Elisavet Aslanidou, Kyrania Christofi, Andreas Vasios, Chrysoula Tzima, Despoina Boulgari and Konstantinos Koutsogiannis), Department of Medicine (Foteini Alexiou and George Eustathiou), Departments of Computer Science & Engineering (Christos Georgiou-Mousses and Athanasios Papanastasiou) and Department of Architecture (Maria Skeva). The team’s primary PIs (Principal Investigators) are the Associate Professors Petros Marangos and Theologos Michaelidis, while their secondary PIs are the Assistant Professor Dimitrios Alivertis and Dr. Lefkothea-Vasiliki Andreou, all from the Department of Biological Applications and Technology.
The main goal of their project, called ‘’Anti-bye-otic’’, is to construct a bacterial mechanism, which will deactivate the antibiotics and their derivatives, whose presence in the soil contribute to the increase of resistant bacterial strains. The imprudent use of antibiotics has led to the increase of antibiotic resistant bacteria, rendering them subsequently inefficient. The proposed solution is the deactivation of the remaining quantities of these antibiotics in the soil by incorporating Synthetic Biology principles, in order to eliminate the possibility of emerging new resistant strains, defending the One Health approach (Human Health, Animal Health, Environmental Health).
Meet iGEM Thessaloniki 2021
iGEM Thessaloniki is the interdisciplinary, undergraduate research team that has been representing Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in the iGEM International Synthetic Biology Competition, since 2017. Currently, the team consists of 11 members, from the Schools of Biology, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Informatics, Pharmacy, Physics and Chemistry of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, as well as from the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics of Democritus University of Thrace. iGEM Thessaloniki 2021 is supported by the primary Principal Investigator, Dr. Vizirianakis Ioannis, Associate Professor of Pharmacology in the Department of Pharmacy of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
This year, iGEM Thessaloniki is designing a cost-effective and non-invasive tool for the diagnosis of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), which is the most common type of pancreatic cancer. In order to contribute to the earlier diagnosis of the disease, which in turn will allow a more effective therapy, the team is developing an in vitro system for the detection of specific miRNAs that are upregulated in the urine of PDAC patients, during stages I and II. More specifically, this system is comprised of a type of synthetic RNA molecules, called Toehold Switches, that enable the production of fluorescence when abnormally high quantities of these miRNAs are present. The project’s name is METIS (MicroRNAs Expression Toehold Investigation System), a name inspired by the Greek goddess of innovation and crafts, Metis.
Meet iGEM Thessaly 2021
iGEM Thessaly, University of Thessaly’s interdisciplinary team, participates for the 3rd time in the iGEM Competition, with the research project “Amalthea”. The team consists of 12 undergraduate students from the departments of Biochemistry & Biotechnology, Information & Electronic Engineering, Electrical & Computer Engineering and Architecture. iGEM Thessaly 2021 is supported by Katerina Moutou, Associate Professor and Kalliope Papadopoulou, Professor at the Department Biochemistry & Biotechnology of the University of Thessaly.
Amalthea is a continuation of the team’s last-year entry in the competition, which targeted the creation of a micro-capsule for the direct and non-invasive diagnosis of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBDs). This year, the team continues its research, aiming for the functional evaluation of the gut microbiome, rendering it more accessible for everyone. Through their design, Amalthea is able to detect gut dysbiosis, caused by the disrupted dietary pattern of the modern way of living, in its early stages. In such a way, Amalthea acts as a prevention tool for gastrointestinal disorders, such as colorectal cancer and obesity. The capsule detects the levels of Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs), certain bacterial metabolites of the gut microbes that constitute an ideal biomarker for the overall health of the gut microbiome. The signal detection through a NOT- GATE system, allows the team to verify the absence of these metabolites. If dysbiosis detection occurs, the teams provides a probiotic supplement that has the capability to replenish the SCFA levels. iGEM Thessaly’s work is a step towards ensuring food security and forming a sustainable food system in our society, through a practical tool for the prevention of gut dysbiosis and a supplement that reinforces the values of the present dietary patterns.