GRK  2062 "Molecular Principles of Synthetic Biology"

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iGEM 2017: Munich team receives 1st Runner Up Prize at iGEM Jamboree


Initiated by the Research Training Group GRK2062, „Molecular Principles of Synthetic Biology“, the combined iGEM team from the two Munich universities LMU and TUM has received the 2017 1st Runner Up Prize Overgrad in the international iGEM competition at Boston (MA) on November 13, 2017.  The team has developed a novel point-of-care diagnostic: CascAID can be used to rapidly distinguish between bacterial and viral infections, thus minimizing the widespread use of antibiotics. Furthermore, CascAID received special awards in the category "Best Diagnostics Project", "Best Applied Design", "Best Hardware", "Best Software" as well as "Best Model".
The team was led by the supervisors Aurore Dupin and Lukas Aufinger, instructed by Benjamin Aleritsch and Ding-Jiunn Jeffery Truong, further supported by Michael Heymann. Scientific experiments were conducted in the laboratory of Prof. Dr. Friedrich Simmel at TUM in Garching.


Project: The ongoing crisis of increasing antibiotic resistance demands innovative preventive strategies. Recently, the RNA-targeting protein CRISPR-Cas13a has been used for highly sensitive DNA and RNA detection, promising diverse applications in point-of-care diagnostics. We integrated Cas13a in the detection unit of CascAID, our GMO-free diagnostic platform. CascAID combines an automated microfluidic device for rapid lysis and extraction of nucleic acids with a paper-based readout system. We demonstrated the performance of our device by targeting the 16S rRNA from E. coli. We improved the detection limit of our platform, using simulations to optimize our amplification scheme and the final readout.

Conceived as a distributable platform for rapid point-of-care diagnostics, CascAID can be used to distinguish between bacterial and viral infections, thus minimizing the widespread use of antibiotics. Furthermore, Cas13a allows the fast design of target sequences, making our system adaptive to the emergence of new viral outbreaks or fast mutating pathogens.

Congratulations to all members and especially to the team supervisors as well as to all sponsors of the team!

More information about the team and their project

iGEM 2017 results


The iGEM competition is an annual, world wide, synthetic biology event aimed at undergraduate university students, as well as high school and graduate students. Multidisciplinary teams work all summer long to build genetically engineered systems using standard biological parts called Biobricks. iGEM teams work inside and outside the lab, creating sophisticated projects that strive to create a positive contribution to their communities and the world.

The International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to education and competition, the advancement of synthetic biology, and the development of an open community and collaboration.