The winners of our iGEM funding competition have been announced!

We are delighted to announce that the team from University of St Andrews have won £2,000 funding to send two students to iGEM2019 in Boston later this year. 

The winning project is titled 'Bacterial Synthesis of Antibody Fragments Stabilized by an Isopeptide Bond' and revolves around designing stable antibody fragments resistant to degradation by the human metabolism.

The full project summary reads:

'We intend to accomplish this by introducing an internal isopeptide bond, a link between two previously separate parts of the protein. This functional arrangement is highly unusual within mammalian proteins; however, this construction motif is standard among certain species of bacteria to create extremely durable proteins which are extruded to sit outside the cell.  The isopeptide bond cannot be degraded by trypsin (a key digestive enzyme), and thus would have a potential benefit in creating long-lasting pharmaceuticals.  Current therapeutic antibodies persist in the body for weeks, but this synthetic variant could theoretically remain active for months.  We intend to begin this project by modelling which residues could be mutated to create the correct arrangement of atoms for spontaneous isopeptide bond formation.  We’ve based our technique upon a comparison of the antibody fragments to very similar bacterial proteins which already contain this structure, using machine learning and molecular dynamics.  Then, this summer, we will express our designer antibody fragments in bacteria to see whether the proteins fold correctly and include this isopeptide bond in vitro.'

The team will now develop their project and present it at the iGEM jamboree in Boston, USA October 31 - November 4, 2019. The competition attracts more than 5,000 innovators every year to showcase their ideas and talents to each other and the wider scientific community.