CPU Student Team Won Its Third Gold Medal of International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition

Release date:2019-11-14  Release:主页英文版

November 5, 2019: The highly anticipated World University Science and Technology Innovation Competition - the 2019 International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition (iGEM) came to an end in Boston, USA. The "CPU CHINA" team consisting of 15 undergraduate students from China Pharmaceutical University competed with 375 teams from 46 countries and regions around the world, and finally stood out from the competition. It was the third gold medal of CPU CHINA team after it has won the gold medal twice in 2017 and 2018. This event, renowned as the highest level of international students' science and technology competition in the field of synthetic biology, fully demonstrates CPU’s outstanding achievements in the cultivation of top-notch innovative talents.

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that attacks the lungs and kills 1.5 million people worldwide every year. During the competition, "CPU CHINA" team developed an immune cell therapy for tuberculosis. The biggest highlight of this therapy is the "reconstruction" of normal cells into cells with certain immune functions by means of synthetic biology. The team members designed two loop pathways within the cell, one that "kills" extracellular Mycobacterium tuberculosis by secreting granulysin, and one that "resists" intracellular Mycobacterium tuberculosis by releasing targeted exosomes carrying miRNAs. While ensuring safety, "inside and outside" and "interacting with each other" is expected to completely eliminate tubercle bacilli in patients. Compared with a series of traditional immune cell therapies such as CAR-T, the advantage of this technology is that it makes full use of the characteristics of easy access and easy modification of normal cells, which can greatly reduce the cost and difficulty in the treatment process. Therapy is pushed to the public and is also easier to use in clinical practice. It is worth mentioning that the immune cell-like therapy can also continuously monitor the patient's recovery and effectively reduce the risk of high recurrence rate of tuberculosis. In addition, in addition to treatment for tuberculosis, the therapy can be widely used in the treatment of other infectious diseases by replacing specific promoters and targets associated with a certain disease, so it is highly praised by the judges and experts.  

The “CPU CHINA” team was formed by the School of Science in 2015 and is affiliated to the CPU Bio_X Club community. The school aims to encourage and support college students to actively participate in international and interdisciplinary competitions, stimulate students' internal motivation and innovation enthusiasm thus to effectively broaden and deepen the channels and connotations of top-notch innovative talent training. The participants of this competition are jointly led by Professor LIU Yu, Associate Dean of the School of Life Science and Technology, Professor JI Xuemei and Undergraduate Student Advisor HUANG Hui from the School of Science. The members include XU Tian, CHEN Jiatong, YANG Yiming, a total of 15 undergraduates from 7 different schools of CPU.  

It is reported that the International Genetic Engineering Machine Design Competition (iGEM) started in 2005 and was originally hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It is the highest level of international student science and technology competition in the field of synthetic biology, and is known as the World Championship in the field of synthetic biology. The team needs to use standard biological modules to build genetic loops, build effective mathematical models, predict, manipulate and measure sophisticated and complex artificial biological systems, and finalize the competition through social research, practice, on-site defense and poster presentation. This year's iGEM attracted 375 teams from the world's top universities including MIT, Harvard University, Stanford University, Oxford University, Cambridge University, Peking University, and Tsinghua University. The competition and research results have also been reported by top academic journals such as Science, Nature, Scientific American, The Economist, and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).  

Written by JIANG Chen and QIN Hedong

Translated by LIU Qi