A team students from National Yang Ming University (NYMU) students have won a gold medal at the International Genetic Engineering Machine 2007 (iGEM 2007) competition.
Their project could help diabetics improve their quality of life and was titled "GlucOperon: An auto-regulated system with both feed-forward and feed-back controls."
The team was made up of seven undergraduate students from the Department of Life Sciences, Department of Medicine and Department of Dentistry, plus five graduate students from the Institute of Bioinformatics and Institute of Biotechnology in Medicine, university sources said.
The iGEM award is an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) iCampus program. The objective of the annual competition is to provide a platform for teams of students worldwide to design and build engineered biological systems using advanced genetic components and technologies.
Since its launch, the iGEM award has become a popular annual competition among university students around the world. This year, the contest drew 59 teams and 580 students from 18 different countries.
The NYMU team, the sole representatives from Taiwan, said its GlucOperon project was the result of team brainstorming.
The team used Escherichia coli (E. coli) as a model to assess the feasibility of the whole insulin secretion system. If the system can successfully be applied to human bodies, it could help diabetic patients avoid stroke caused by insulin overdose.
The project focuses on the development of a prokaryotic system to reduce the reliance of patients on synthetic insulin. The concept was widely praised by participating teams for its innovation and feasibility, the sources said.
In addition to the NYMU team, teams from US-based Harvard University, Princeton University and University of California, Berkeley, also won gold medals in the competition, the sources said.