The student team from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has won the Best Health and Medicine Project category in the prestigious 12th annual iGEM 2015 Giant Jamboree competition with their cutting-edge biological cancer therapy called “Boomerang.”
IGEM is considered one of the most important ventures in the global sphere of science. Nearly 4,600 students competed in this year’s event in Boston.
The BGU project Boomerang is based on advanced methods of genetic engineering and synthetic biology. It has many applications that rely on the special characteristics of cancer cells to identify and alter cells as well as treat the disease at the molecular level.
The name “Boomerang” mirrors the actions in which the synthetic system uses cancer cells’ own genetic alterations against them.
As a cancer therapy, Boomerang works as a modular system. It can cause disruption of genes essential for cancer survival or activate suicide genes so that the cancer or tumor kills itself. Boomerang can also produce color proteins for cancer cell detection so that the edges of a tumor are visible to ensure complete surgical removal.
In addition to winning the grand prize in the Best Health and Medicine Project in the “Overgraduate” category (graduate level), the BGU team was a first runner-up in the overall competition, the first Israeli team to reach this level in iGEM.
The BGU team also won the Best New Basic Part Award for developing and submitting the best new functional DNA sequence to this year’s competition.