Your browser does not support JavaScript!

:::

 

 

NTHU Team Wins iGEM Gold Medal
The initial diagnosis of diabetes and various types of cancer currently requires taking a blood sample. However, an interdisciplinary student team at NTHU has recently developed a wearable device similar to a wristwatch which can perform the same functions of blood test. Their work has earned them a gold medal from the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition, the world's largest synthetic biology competition.
 
The iGEM competition was founded in 2004 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Assistant Professor Frank Lin of the Department of Medical Science led the NTHU Formosa team consisting of 14 students from various departments to compete at the event held in Boston, USA, at the end of October. The competition attracted 340 teams with more than 5,000 participants from around the world, and in addition to winning a gold medal, NTHU Formosa was nominated for Best Presentation and Best Project in the diagnostic category.
 
NTHU Formosa used synthetic biotechnology to transplant sensitive proteins that recognize specific biological factors in the blood onto the surface of blood cells, and designed a genetic loop that causes cells which bind to biological traits to emit a long-wavelength luminescence which passes through tissues and can be detected by a special wristwatch they have dubbed the “BioWatcher.” This makes it relatively quick and easy to detect and measure the proteins, viruses, nucleic acids, and other factors in the blood. If a particular factor exceeds a certain limit, the BioWatcher issues a warning to remind the wearer to seek medical asistance.
 
Prof. Lin Yu-Chun said that this device will be a godsend to those who are afraid of needles. Because most people are reluctant to take blood tests out of fear of needles, it could inadvertently miss the optimal window for medical intervention. By contrast, the non-invasive BioWatcher enables early detection of diabetes, high blood pressure, fatty liver, and various types of cancer. Moreover, in addition to counting one’s steps and taking one’s heartbeat, the BioWatcher can also detect the symptoms of various other conditions. “The team is currently preparing to publish a paper on the design and to apply for a US patent.
 
Lin said that NTHU Formosa was formed while the team members were taking his course titled Synthetic Biology, and that their enthusiasm to ask questions and working together to find solutions led to this award-winning design.
 
The team consists of students from the Institute of Systems Neuroscience and from the departments of Medical Science, Applied Science, Life Science, Electrical Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering and Environmental Science. In order to prepare for the iGEM competition, the team consulted with a number of experts, including Dr. Chang Shing-jyh of the MacKay Memorial Hospital.
 
Team leader Nicole Cheng, a dual major in the Department of Medical Science and the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, said that the iGEM competition encourages participants to get out of the lab and to network with the public and industry, and to use synthetic biology to find solutions to key problems in such fields as environmental protection, medical care, and pharmaceuticals. The overall purpose is to make the world a better place.
 
Tommy Shen, a team member majoring in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, said that it was very interesting and rewarding to be a part of the cross-disciplinary team and contributed to the establishment of the website required for entering the competition (http://2018.igem.org/Team:NTHU_Formosa).
 
Prof. Chen Lin-yi of the Department of Medical Science said that NTHU Formosa was established in January 2018 under the auspices of the Ministry of Education's Medical Innovation Program, which gives students the opportunity to participate in international competitions. In less than a year the team accomplished a lot, including planning the project, consulting with experts and physicians, conducting experiments, and publishing their research results.
 
Prof. Chen also thanked all the experts, physicians, and organizations who have provided guidance and support to the team, including the Shen Liyang Memorial Foundation, the Taiwan ImagingTek Corporation (TITC), Integrated DNA Technology (IDT), LifeOptimal, the Taiwan Strategics Intellectual Property Office (TSipo), the Alumni Association of the College of Life Science, and the Ministry of Education
 

NTHU Formosa won a gold medal at the iGEM competition held in Boston at the end of October.

NTHU Formosa won a gold medal at the iGEM competition held in Boston at the end of October.


Assistant Professor Frank Lin (first on left) with NTHU Formosa at the iGEM competition.

Assistant Professor Frank Lin (first on left) with NTHU Formosa at the iGEM competition.


Team leader Nicole Cheng explaining NTHU Formosa’s entry to the iGEM judges.

Team leader Nicole Cheng explaining NTHU Formosa’s entry to the iGEM judges.


NTHU Formosa Team consists of students from the Institute of Systems Neuroscience and from the departments of Medical Science, Applied Science, Life Science, Electrical Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering and Environmental Science.

NTHU Formosa Team consists of students from the Institute of Systems Neuroscience and from the departments of Medical Science, Applied Science, Life Science, Electrical Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering and Environmental Science.

No. of visitors