Manipal BioMachines (MBM), a synthetic biology research team from the Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT) under Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), has bagged the gold medal at the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM 2020) competition.
The teams from across the globe had to submit videos, a poster and a website documenting information related to their project within stringent deadlines. The competition took place over the summer of 2020 and 249 teams participated from 36 countries.
A statement from MAHE said that it was decided to find an effective, long-term and novel solution to methylmercury poisoning for this year’s project. Humans are exposed to methylmercury primarily through contaminated fish leading to neurological problems.
Quoting Varun Udaya Kumar, team leader of Manipal BioMachines, it said: “By designing a probiotic pill which converts methylmercury to elemental mercury, which is less toxic in the gut, we hope to provide a solution to methylmercury poisoning.”
Manipal BioMachines was mentored by Ritu Raval and Praveen Kumar of the Department of Biotechnology at MIT in Manipal.
It said that iGEM Foundation is an independent non-profit organisation dedicated to the advancement of synthetic biology and applied biotechnology. The annual competition brings together more than 6,000 participants from various disciplines across the globe.