The students worked on a project which focussed on designing new antimicrobials, called Seekercins, to kill drug-resistant bacteria with a mechanism inspired by other natural molecules
A team of 13 students at Department of Biotechnology, IIT Roorkee has won gold medal at the International iGEM 2020 competition and it was also among the top five Indian teams that won the funding support from Department of Biotechnology, Government of India for participation. iGEM having its headquarters in Massachusetts, USA is the most extensive synthetic biology innovation programme and a launch pad for the industry’s various successful leaders and companies.
iGEM 2020 witnessed the participation of 249 teams from 36 countries. The team worked on the project titled ‘Pyomancer: Novel Antimicrobial Drugs against MDR Infections’ to tackle WHO’s topmost priority problem of antimicrobial resistance and approached it from a multidisciplinary perspective. This project focussed on designing new antimicrobials, called Seekercins, to kill drug-resistant bacteria with a mechanism inspired by other natural molecules.
“Synthetic Biology finds applications in medicine and several other areas. I would like to congratulate the winning team for winning the Gold Medal at this international competition and bringing laurels to our Institute and country” said Prof Ajit K Chaturvedi, Director, IIT Roorkee.
The Team Leader, Sanjeevani Marcha, a final year student, said, “We believe that through our concept and protein design, we can focus on the priority pathogens and urge the pharmaceutical companies to change the ways antibiotics are conventionally developed. By working on the biological systems with an engineering approach, we could think beyond traditional methods in life sciences and implement creative approach from an open mindset.”
“Our achievement would be incomplete without the support of our Professors and Mentors. We were constantly encouraged by Prof Naveen K Navani to aim for the competition and form a good team, and Prof Ranjana Pathania (our Principal Investigator) provided rigorous mentorship in developing our project. From understanding the technical aspects of the lab work to streamlining our work processes, they mentored us throughout and helped us gain support from the institute administration” she added.
“We are elated to have won the gold medal at our very first attempt and that wouldn’t have been possible without the due time and knowledge the team gained from Dr Nand Kishore Joshi, Dr Anand Raman Tiwari, and Dr Rajesh Kulkarni. They provided us with insights to understand the change in the scenario during the pandemic and helped us formulate a delivery system for our drug. Also, the response from school students and faculties during our sensitisation webinars was appreciable,” Yash Aggarwal, a third year student of Biotechnology proclaimed.
Siddharth Suhas Fitwe, a second-year student, said “It was a pleasure working in the field of Synthetic Biology, experience independent research and engage with teams internationally so early on. We also learnt a lot from our collaboration with the NSS IIT Roorkee team to expand the reach of our AMR Awareness initiatives and conduct webinars in schools.”