GENEART Supports Advancements in Synthetic Biology as Partner of the iGEM Competition
News Sep 18, 2008
Imagine organisms with an on/off switch, detecting poisons or flashing green! When young scientists in the field of Synthetic Biology compete for the first prize in the iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) competition, visions arise of commercial applications.
GENEART AG sponsors this student competition for the second year running. Worldwide, iGEM is the only competition of its kind and has developed exponentially since its inception in 2004.
Only five US American teams competed in the first summer event. This year, 84 teams from all over the world have registered. The students will spend their summer constructing exchangeable DNA parts (DNA = deoxyribonucleic acid/genetic material) for use as modules in complex Synthetic Biology applications.
At the closing iGEM event in November, the competitors have a chance to present their work on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Campus. Prizes are awarded for the most interesting projects.
As a sponsoring partner in the competition, GENEART will provide 210,000 base pairs for the competitors and provide a significant financial support for the competition. Additionally GENEART will provide 10,000 base pairs free of charge to the winners of the special prize for the "most innovative standardized DNA module". The prizes will support the winners' continued work in the laboratory.
Professor Ralf Wagner, GENEART CEO, comments: "From all the life science specialties, the Synthetic Biology is regarded the most future-oriented field. Synthetic Biologists want to use microorganisms as biological production units. In the future, bacteria could for example play a role in producing bio-fuel from post-harvest plant materials. Bacteria could also be used to degrade poisonous substances in soil or to synthesize complex drugs in a cost-efficient way. As the market leader in the gene synthesis we like to lend a hand to this competition and support advancements in this new market segment."
There are many application opportunities for Synthetic Biology. They all have in common that they build on de novo DNA synthesis as the key technology for the design and production of standard gene components.
Randy Rettberg, founder and Director of iGEM at MIT, elucidates: "The students are able to take their designs and turn them into reality with the necessary DNA sequences provided by GENEART. The newly developed components then become part of a library for use by researchers worldwide. In this way, GENEART makes a large contribution to advancements in Synthetic Biology."