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BGU’s OriginALS Team Competes in Synthetic Biology

BGU’s OriginALS Team Competes in Synthetic Biology

June 7, 2018

Leadership, Awards & Events, Medical Research

Addgene – In this episode of the Addgene Podcast, Addgenie Kim de Mora sits down with Avital Bailen from the OriginALS International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) team at Ben-Gurion University, which will represent BGU in the upcoming iGEM competition. Listen to Bailen discuss what she hopes to learn from the iGEM competition.

Listen to the full podcast on the Addgene website (Episode 18)>>

iGEM OriginALS team members: (From top row left to right) Re’em Malul, Sagi Angel,  Nitzan Keidar, Liat Tsoran, Mor Pasi, Mor Sela, Einan Farhi, Avital Bailen, Daniel Deitch, Ori Tulchinksy

Each participating iGEM team is tasked with devising an innovative solution to an environmental, medical or social problem. The OriginALS team, comprised of 10 undergraduate students from different faculties, has chosen to focus on a new approach to ALS treatment.

Only 10 percent of ALS cases are familial, meaning that they appear in a certain family lineage. This means that only 10 percent of ALS cases can be studied through genetic mapping, leaving 90 percent caused by unknown reasons.

The OriginALS project focuses on cells that support neurons–the glial cells–rather than the neurons themselves. In this way they aim to develop an approach that will prolong neuron survival and will be immediately applicable to all ALS cases. Additionally, the team’s findings may in the future be applicable to other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.