On October 31, a team of undergraduate students from Bilkent won a silver medal at the International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) Competition held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, for their project “Smelling Cancer.”
The Bilkent-UNAMBG team’s members—Özge Beğli, Hazal Beril Çatalak, Büşra Merve Kırpat, Ayşenaz Ozantürk, Simay Ayhan and Musa Efe Işılak— are working as undergraduate researchers in UNAM’s Synthetic Biosystems Laboratory, led by Assist. Prof. Urartu Özgür Şafak Şeker (MSN and UNAM). For the iGEM competition, the team was supervised by Dr. Şeker and Assoc. Prof. Işık Yuluğ (Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics and UNAM).
The aim of the “Smelling Cancer” project was to design synthetic genetic circuits coupled with enabled genetic logic gates in bacteria that can process signals from volatile organic compounds in the exhaled breath of patients in order to diagnose breast cancer. The overarching goal of the project is to produce a new kit that can be used to routinely, easily and noninvasively diagnose different cancer types.
The iGEM competition is a worldwide synthetic biology competition that has been held by the International Genetically Engineered Machine Foundation since 2004.
The iGEM Foundation was established at MIT and is dedicated to synthetic biology education and competition.
A video about the “Smelling Cancer” project may be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvGAcPmhWzM