Ten Egyptian students are hoping to develop a solution that would help in the battle against cancer. What exactly is this solution? Egyptian Streets interviewed the team to find out more.
What exactly is the problem?
Cancer has become the second leading cause of death in the world. Conventional anticancer therapies such as radio- and chemotherapies cannot differentiate efficiently between cancerous and normal tissues, and thus can hurt more than help.
Our research focuses on a specific type of bacterium that has the ability to differentiate between cancerous and normal cells. These bacteria preferentially accumulate in cancer tissues at a ratio 10000:1 compared to normal ones. Scientists then managed to use these bacteria as a vehicle to deliver cytotoxic drugs into cancerous cells. However, about 1% of bacteria still instigated apoptosis in normal cells, so the procedure is not perfect. Our solution is to insert an “ON” switch into these bacteria, so that they only instigate cell death when activated. This switch would preferentially be turned on only in cancerous cells.
What is your vision?
Our project vision is to deliver a drug that cures cancer without hurting the individual, while our social vision is to prove to the world that Egyptian minds are powerful and creative. We just need the opportunity to work on an international level to compete and show their skills.
How can you make this idea come to real life?
We hope to compete in iGEM this year. The International Genetically Engineered Machine competition (iGEM) is a premiere undergraduate synthetic biology competition. Student teams are given a kit of biological parts and working at their own schools over the summer. They use the parts provided and new parts of their own design to build biological systems and operate them in living cells. If we get the funding to participate in this competition, we are confident that we can showcase our ideas and hopefully bring recognition and support to our team.
How much is needed for this competition?
To enter the competition, we need 4,500 USD by Friday, May 1st, 2015 . Details are included here: http://2015.igem.org/Team_Registration_Fee
How can YOU help?
Please contact us at [email protected].
Who is behind this team?
The team is comprised of ten undergraduate students from a variety of fields, including medicine, computing, engineering, and pharmacology. We work under the supervision of three instructors from Ain Shams University and Cairo University.
Edited by Marina Kilada and Karim Hafazalla