Congratulations to second-year Engineering Science undergraduate Arman Karshenas on winning Best Therapeutics Project award and a gold medal with an Oxford team in the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition.
iGEM is ‘an international competition for students interested in the field of synthetic biology’, which gives interdisciplinary teams of students the opportunity to push the boundaries of synthetic biology whilst tackling everyday issues facing the world. Arman was one of two Engineering Science students in the 2018 Undergraduate Oxford iGEM team.
Competing against more than 300 teams from over 40 countries, the Oxford team worked over the summer on miBiome, a project to develop a novel treatment for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), before presenting their data to more than 3,000 people in Boston. They were awarded the Best Therapeutics Project award, won a gold medal, and nominated for three other awards.
Characterised by chronic inflammation of the intestine, IBD is associated with an imbalance in immune cell populations. Existing immunosuppressive therapies often elicit systemic side effects and require frequent readministration. Arman’s team’s solution offers a non-invasive, self-tuning therapeutic for IBD, with potential to replace conventional immunosuppressants in the treatment of gastrointestinal autoimmune disorders.
On 21 November the team were invited to the Royal Academy of Engineering to present their project to the UK Leadership Council in Synthetic Biology. Arman has written his first paper on the modelling side of the project: Frequency and Time Domain Analysis of sRNA-based Treatment for Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
Because Iranians are banned from travelling to the US, Arman was unable to accompany the team to Boston.