November 13, 2017

Vilnius university team wins the Grand Prize in iGEM competition

“Vilnius-Lithuania iGEM” team won the largest, most prestigious, international Synthetic Biology competition iGEM.  Vilnius University students bested more than 300 teams from leading world universities. The team won the Grand Prize and received a gold medal as well as three special awards: for Best New Basic Part, Best New Composite Part and Best Part Collection.

iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) is a yearly competition. It is the largest synthetic-biology competition in the world, where students work all year long to solve real-world challenges by building genetically engineered biological systems with standard, interchangeable parts.

This year “Vilnius-Lithuania iGEM” team focused on plasmids: round-shaped DNA structures, which can transfer genetic information and change cell’s function. Therefore plasmids are widely used in biotechnology. Vilnius university students created SynORI: a framework designed to make working with single and multi-plasmid systems precise, easy and more functional on top of that.

This system will help with everyday lab work and it can also be used for biological computing, assembly of large protein complexes or metabolic engineering.

“This is a huge achievement for Lithuania. We  surpassed students from the best universities in the world – Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, Heidelberg, etc. Lithuania will be a serious player in the world of synthetic biology. We hope that this victory will help attract more large investments in science sector in Lithuania. SynORI might become the very first synthetic biology start-up in our country”, the team said.

“We received support from all the iGEM teams and after seeing how interested several large synthetic biology companies were in our project, we hope to continue to work on it. SynORI is relevant and important for further development of synthetic biology”, team leader Gabrielius Jakutis said.

As always, “Vilnius-Lithuania iGEM” team was sponsored by Thermo Fisher Scientific, a biotechnology product development company. They supplied the students with all the lab equipment and reagents necessary for their work, helped them with their scientific research and also covered all travelling expenses. The students visited Thermo Fisher Scientific headquarters in Boston where they were greeted by the company’s top executives.

This year “Vilnius-Lithuania iGEM” was also sponsored by Interlux and Biotecha, modern companies working with pharmaceutical technologies and solutions for biotechnology, medicine and science industry.

Source: Vilnius University