Leiden iGEM team comes home with gold medal

20 december 2022

Leiden iGEM student team ‘Binanox’ has 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 are trying to invent new products and services for industry, environment and health, for example, using synthetic biology. De organisator is het Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in het Amerikaanse Boston. Leiden’s teams have a good chance to be in the top position. In 2019, the Rapidemic student team 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.

Top ten

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 over three hundred teams. Students in Leiden 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, thereby breaking down the tumors.

Mirthe Zandbelt, bachelor student Life Science and Technology 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 have to graduate!”

This news item is a copy of the Leidsch Dagblad article previously published on December 2, 2022.
Photography: Hielco Kuipers

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