Leiden iGEM Team returns home with gold medal
The Leiden iGEM student team ‘Binanox’ won a gold medal at an international competition for organic entrepreneurs in Paris. Not only that, Binanox also won three “special awards” for best website, entrepreneurship and best safety policy, particularly around lab work and the use of genetically modified organisms.
iGEM is an international competition in the field of synthetic biology. Over six thousand students, in three hundred teams from 45 countries try to invent new products and services for industry, environment and health, for example, using synthetic biology. The organizer is Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, USA. Leiden teams often score high marks. In 2019, the student team Rapidemic won with a test kit to quickly detect sexual infectious diseases. Rapidemic is now a startup with a branch in innovation center PLNT on Leiden’s Langegracht.
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Binanox students are developing nanoparticles that can remove tumors in head and neck cancers. All in all, the team finished in the top ten out of more than three hundred teams. The Leiden students invented a new way for bacteria to produce nanoparticles of silver and gold. Patients with head and neck cancer can have those particles injected near a tumor, after which infrared radiation heats the nanoparticles, thus breaking down the tumors.
Mirthe Zandbelt, undergraduate Life Science and Technology student and Binanox team manager, is especially proud of the top-ten place. “It shows that as a team we have achieved something special. At the same time, the three special awards also show that our three managers website, entrepreneurship and safety have also done top work individually.” Thus, a bright future seems up for grabs, but it is not so simple. “There is a lot of potential in Binanox,” says Windi Putri Wulandari, communications manager and master’s student in biology, “But before we can think about that, we need to graduate!”
This news item is a copy of the Leidsch Dagblad article published earlier on December 2, 2022.
Photography: Hielco Kuipers