At the annual International Genetically Engineered Machine competition (iGEM) held last fall at MIT, UC Berkeley’s iGEM squad was named one of six finalists for the grand prize and won Best Poster for their demonstration showing how genetically modified E. coli bacteria might be converted into a cheap—and safe—blood substitute.
The engineered product, called “Bactoblood,” addresses a global shortage of human blood for transfusions, particularly in developing countries and emergency situations, the young developers say.
Facing more than 50 undergraduate teams from 19 countries, UC Berkeley’s Bactoblood squad was named one of six finalists in the prestigious synthetic biology event. Despite its dreaded association with serious food poisoning, the E. coli used in the Bactoblood experiment was modified to remove its toxicity and help it live longer in the bloodstream.
This was accomplished using a process developed by Chris Anderson, a recently appointed Assistant Professor of Bioengineering. The team included six undergraduates studying bioengineering, biochemistry and even anthropology; three high school students; and graduate and faculty advisers. Bioengineering Professors Adam Arkin and Jay Keasling joined Chris as faculty advisors to the team.
Read more in Innovations.