What if your own body attacks your healthy cells? What if, because of this, you have little energy, cannot walk properly anymore and as a result, participation in society gets more and more difficult? This year the iGEM TU Eindhoven team is working on a project, in which we are researching cell-based therapies to help these people.
Why autoimmune diseases?
Last January (2022) our team, consisting of nine students, started the iGEM adventure. It quickly became apparent that, besides wanting to win the iGEM competition, we also wanted to make a real impact on healthcare. Since our interests are focused on innovations within the healthcare sector (also the focus of research in Eindhoven), we soon realized that we wanted to focus on a therapeutic or diagnostics application.
De journey of our team
The team began with the ideation-phase, where we brainstormed for about 2 months. Initially, we started with more than 20 different healthcare-related problems. Eventually, we ended up with the idea for !MPACT, our own design for a cell-based therapies against autoimmune diseases, which offered the perfect challenge for our entire team to take on. A problem that affects about 4% of the world’s population and therefore something that many of us could relate to. For example, since a friend of one of our team members suffers from multi sclerosis, which only makes our end-goal more important..
What makes our project unique?
Currently, therapies against autoimmune diseases are non-specific and, instead, suppress the patient’s entire immune system. This makes the patient more susceptible to other diseases which can often have serious consequences. Unlike these therapies, our cells will only become active at the inflammatory site of the disease. Our cells are inserted once at the first registration of the disease, which makes our therapy less invasive and more effective when a patient relapses.
Who are we?
Our team consists of nine ambitious students, eight of whom have a background in biomedical technology. The fascination for bacteria, cells and laboratory experiments are therefore, clearly noticeable. Hence why our mascot is quite appropriately an e. coli. Now that we have fully thought through our experiments and have talked with several experts, we are looking forward to the next steps in our project. We’ll tell you next time how we’re going to do this and what it involves, so keep an eye on our blog!
Elisa Passet – public relations iGEM TU Eindhoven – 04/07/2022